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daf stinking lizaveta funky animal collective wavves pj harvey zu 



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now 



free 

11 -track 



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issue 43 



9 


I77174J243022I 




03 





march 2009 



Balti 



leader 





Bonnie 



'Prince' 




a gf& decay symptons 
Please 02/03/09 



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first aid kit drunken trees 




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release 09/03/ 








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, dvds and books instore and is only available on production of a valid receipt dated no more than four weeks fr 
Goods must be in the condition as sold, both the sleeve/case, disc or spine/pages. We reserve the right to refuse this offer. This offer in no way affects your statutory rights. 

ay be priced differently. 



music film + books 



the best titles @ simple prices suck_it_and_see 



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m 



■ 



'I was unsure of the 
forces that might 
have crept in during 
the assembling 
of the songs' 

- Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, p40 




THE VOID 

8 Wavves 

10Syntheme, BlkJks 

12 Read The Label: Le Vilain Chien 

14-15 Tour Diary: Max Tundra, 

Playlist: Holy Roar 

16 Guided Tour: Zu 

18 Music That Time Forgot: Supersister 

20-21 Singles Club: Cocknbullkid, 

Esser, Shuttle 

22 When We Meet: Janelle Monae, 

Desperado, Talk Normal 

24-25 History From Below: Funky 

26 Mitten, Jeremy Jay 

28 The Beehive: Record Shop Stories 

82 The Blessed Revenge of.. .Marianne Faithfull 

FEATURES 

30-31 Stinking Lizaveta 
40-43 Bonnie 'Prince' Billy 
44-45 DAF 
32-39 BALTIMORE: 

32-35 Dan Deacon 

36Rjyan Kidwell 

37 Ponytail, Ecstatic Sunshine 

38 Scene And Heard 

39 K-Swift 

LIVE 

6-7 Animal Collective 

46-47 Afrirampo, US Girls, Babi-Chin 

48-49 Ladyfest Goldsmiths, Wolves In The 

Throne Room, Club Transmediale 

54-56 LIVE PREVIEW Instal, Frightened Rabbit 



ALBUMS 

60 PJ Harvey and John Parrish 

62 Fever Ray, 1990s, Lily Allen 

64 Mastodon, Arbouretum, Belbury Poly 

66-67 Final, Extra Golden, Mike Bones 

68-69 Wounded Knee, Dat Politics, Dark Was 

The Night 

70-71 Julie Doiron, Bill Callahan, Under My 

Stylus: Telepathe 

72-73 Anni Rossi, Soap And Skin, Swan Lake 

74-75 REISSUES Sci-Fi Lo-Fi Volume III: 

Shoegazing 1985-2009, Godflesh 

76-77 REISSUES Isaac Hayes, Death, Six Organs 

Of Admittance 

MEDIA 

80-81 BOOKS Virginie Despentes, Terry 
Moore, Rune Grammofon's Money Will Ruin 
Everything 2 

82 TV Patrick McGoohan and The Prisoner 

83 GAMES Ice-Pick Lodge: Russian 
Underground Gaming 



Photography: Cat Stevens 
plan b | 3 




This month's cover star, as you have probably 
already clocked, is Dan Deacon - the party-starting 
electronica wunderkind who broke cover a couple 
of years back with the elatory Spiderman Of The 
Rings, not to mention some sweat-misted live 
shows that saw Deacon playing day-glo conductor 
from right in the thick of the crowd. Thing is, 
though, it's impossible to talk about Deacon without 
talking a bit about Baltimore, too. If I were being 
poetic, I'd say their fates were intertwined, although 
more prosaically it's a matter of Deacon - an out-of- 
towner, originally from West Babylon, New York - 
and his friends in the Wham City collective seeing 
the city not as a dilapidated backwater, but as firm 
earth on which to build. That's not to say Wham City 
and its new crop of wide-eyed posi-kids is the only 
thing going on in Baltimore, though: as Rjyan 
Kidwell, formerly laptop rapper Cex and long-time 
Maryland resident recognises, this city has a history 
that stretches back beyond what he calls " neon 
sweatpants goof ball shit"; from the brooding post- 
hardcore of Lungf ish to the gritty thud of Bmore 
club music, as Kidwell puts it, "Baltimore's native 
strain of weirdness isn't downy- it's psychotic." 

Elsewhere this issue, we find another localised 
music culture taking its first vestigial steps. Ben 
Mechen's piece on funky, the latest strain in the 
winding history of London club music, is a neat little 
investigation that takes the pulse of a sound that's 
still finding its own identity. Veteran UK scribe Simon 
Reynolds has been back in the country recently, 
lecturing on his theory of the 'hardcore continuum', 
which postulates the scattered sub-genres of British 
dance culture constitute not isolated pockets, but 
an evolution, or a thread. There's been some debate 
as to where funky fits in this; a new twist, or an 
break from the continuum's innovative momentum? 
Personally, I hear a tune like KIG's 'Heads Shoulders 
Knees And Toes' and feel the same buzz I got when 
I first hear Wiley's 'Igloo', or So Solid's 'Dilemma'. 

It's possible funky is just a blip, a snapshot of 
music hurtling its way towards a new destination. 
But then, isn't there something thrilling about the 
idea of a missing link -the thing that exists, lives, 
and is gone? History is for the historians, and sure, 
there's a place for that - but the best things are 
made in the moment, unique and unrepeatable. 
Or, as that wise old goat Bonnie 'Prince' Billy puts 
it, later on this issue: "The unique power of 
recording equipment is that it actually can capture 
something as it's happening. ..something that's 
never happened before." 
Louis Pattison 



PlanB 

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Assistant Publisher: Richard Stacey 
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Distribution: 

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Plan B is published by Plan B Publishing Ltd 

www.planbmag.com 

ISSN 1744-2435 



The next issue of Plan B will be available in 
WH Smiths, independent newsagents, Borders, 
HMV, Zavvi, Waterstones, selected university 
campus shops and all good record shops, week 
beginning 6 April 2009. Check www.planbmag. 
com/ stockists for the stockists' list and subscriber 
info. You can ask independent newsagents to order 
it at the counter, or email andrews@warnersgroup. 
co.uk. Plan B is now available for digital subscription 
at www.exacteditions.com 




magazine 



Editor: Louis Pattison louis@planbmag.com 

Art Director: Andrew Clare andrew@planbmag.com 
Photo Editor: Cat Stevens cat@planbmag.com 

The Void/Lives: kicking_k kick@planbmag.com 
Albums/Preview: Lauren Strain lauren@planbmag.com 
Media: Louis Pattison louis@planbmag.com 

Website: James Hodgsonjames@planbmag.com 

Events: Ben Webster planbmagazineevents® 

googlemail.com 

Sub-editors: Anne Hollowday, Katie Horrocks, Kev 
Kharas, Reena Makwana, Ben Mechen, 
Laura Sherwood 



Contributors: Stuart Aitken, Miss AMP, Euan Andrews, 
Adam Anonymous, HayleyAvron, Daniel Barrow, Emily Bick, 
Abi Bliss, Natalie Boxall, Melissa Bradshaw, Beth Capper, 
Stevie Chick, Merek Cooper, Neil Cooper, The Corpo, Jon Dale, 
Jesse Darlin', John Damielle, Petra Davis, John Doran, Dickon 
Edwards, Matt Evans, Jonathan Falcone, Alistair Fitchett, 
Anna-Marie Fitzgerald, Alex Fitzpatrick, Fiona Fletcher, 
Richard Fontenoy, Noel Gardner, Thorn Gibbs, Kieron Gillen, 
Alex Goffey, Spencer Grady, Hannah Gregory, James 
Hodgson, Jess Holland, Jessica Hopper, Tom Howard, Ben 
Hoyle, Miranda lossifidis, Charlie Jones, Kev Kharas, Pil and 
Galia Kollectiv, Neil Kulkami, Ben Jacobs, Sam Lewis, Chris Lo, 
Darren Loucaides, Andrzej Lukowski, Reena Makwana, Scott 
McKeating, David McNamee, Ben Mechen, Nicola Meighan, 
Sean Michaels, Patrick Moran, Shane Moritz, Doug Mosurock, 
JR Nelson, Marcus O'Dair, James Papademetrie, Peter Parrish, 
Ned Raggett, Marcus Scott, Matthew Sheret, Joe Shooman, 
James Skinner, Quintin Smith, Stewart Smith, Ringo P Stacey, 
Joseph Stannard, Lianne Steinberg, Lauren Strain, Samuel 
Strang, Dr Swan, NickTalbot, George Taylor, Daniel Trilling, 
Matilda Tristram, Meryl Trussler, Ben Webster, Robin Wilks 

Photographers: 

Shaun Bloodworth shaun.bloodworth@virgin.net 

Courtney Brooke Hall www.courtneybrookel .blogspot.com 

LCareme 

Justin Edwards www.justinedwards.co.uk 

Simon Fernandez www.simonfernandezphotography.com 

JustinHollarwww.justinhollar.com 

Zach Klein www.zachklein.com 

ManiThomassonmanithomasson@googlemail.com 

Brian Wotnot www.myspace.com/letthemeatcoal 

Illustrators: 

Duncan Barrettwww.crayonlegs.com 

Gwenola Carrere http://gwenola.ultra-book.com 

Gemma Correll www.gemmacorrell.com 

John Cei Douglaswww.shotformeat.com 

Elliot Elam www.elliotelam.com 

Adrian Fleet adrian_fleet@hotmail.com 

Anna Higgiewww.annahiggie.com 

Meg Hunt meg@meghunt.com 

Mimi Leung mimi-goitre.blogspot.com 

Sarah Lippettwww.crayonlegs.com 

Matthew The Horse www.matthewthehorse.co.uk 

Marcus Oakley banjo@dircon.co.uk 

Kristin Oftedal kristinsillustration.blogspot.com 

Sac Magique www.sacmagique.net 

VincentVanolivincent.vanoli@free.fr 

AnkeWeckmann www.linotte.net 

NickWhitewww.thisisnickwhite.com 

Olimpia Zagnoli www.olimpiazagnoli.com 

Cover photography: Justin Hollar 



4 1 plan b 



CM/R 



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Tracks taken from the forthcoming album Embrace, 
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SEE SLEEPY SUN LIVE IN THE US THIS MARCH STARTING WITH SXSW 

AND THEN IN THE UK IN MAY AND PERFORMING AT 

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TICKETS ON SALE FROM BOX OFFICES VIA 

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www.atpfestival .com 




Animal Collective 

Glasgow School Of Art 

Animal Collective, I guess, are becoming more 
like an observable ecosystem than a normal, 
regular, kiss yr posters and carve-their-name- 
bluntly-into-yr-arm rock band. When they first 
visited the UK over five years ago, an AC live 
show saw Avey Tare and Panda Bear hunched 
tightly over bare bones instrumentation, see- 
sawing between intense no-wave pounding 
and insular drones of fantasy pop. The cloaking 
device of bedroom pseudonyms, felt-tipped 
masks and long hair wigs, worn /?/nc/c/-fashion 
over the face, showed the influence of both 
the Sun City Girls' dada-punk performances 
and memories of childhood playtimes. 

Since that time, the symbiotic evolution 
of the four members of the Collective - the 
other two being Geologist and Deakin-has 



of the night impacts up through the legs and 
down on yr head with a collision somewhere 
around the midriff. Several towers of lights 
stand sentinel behind the band, whipping out 
seizure-inducing spectrums at the appropriate 
moments. We didn't know there was a tunnel 
between Floyd and Fabric, but we do now. 
For a portion of tonight's show Animal 
Collective far surpass what's expected of a band 
performance, combining the feel of a minimal 
techno set, with its intricate understanding of 
horizontal sound, and an expert jam-band's 
sense of how to fill space. The instantly 
anthemic 'My Girls' is dropped mid-set, shorn 
of the recorded version's "woooh!" and * 
handclapping, bringing the Cologne-scented 
basslinethat pulses underneath right into the 
foreground. This cross-fades into the schaffel 
pop of 'Summertime Clothes', with its chorus 



reached such a distinctive level that knowledge of "I want to walk around with you", the crowd 



of the contribution levels from each band 
member can give you accurate estimations 
of the type of flora and fauna yr gonna find 
on any given album. For example, if Feels 
is mostly Avey material, you'd be right in 
predicting that it was going to meander 



We didn't know there was a 
tunnel between Floyd and Fabric 






psychedelically like Syd Barret's white bike. 

While the albums therefore stand as self- 
contained environments, the group's live show 
is an overgrown wilderness, the desire to drift 
between their various periods snapping the 
taut momentum of a set mostly reliant on their 
stunning new material. With Merriweather 
Post Pavilion, AC have delivered a true gift — 
a record about the desire for external 
pleasures, taking dance music out of the 
clubs and into the fields. Gone is the need 
to surround the music in theatre. The band 
tonight are clad in yr ultimate comfort clothes 
of tie-dyed tees and baggy grey hoodies. 



sharing harmony duties. Finally, Panda Bear 
turns to the drum kit left of him, a searing 
'Fireworks' climaxes with a colossal layering 
of noise, and suddenly the thread between 
past and present tightens. 

At other moments though, the reality 
principle intrudes on the pleasure 
principle. The digi-crunk of 'Lion In 
A Coma' and 'Brother Sport', with 
u its galloping harmonies, seethe 

ITIC audience gradually losing themselves 
in Animal Collective's rave colour 
wheel. But then, the band set up 
an endurance test of sorts, with a mid-set lull 
of 'Banshee Beat' and an indie-pop reworking 
of the much older 'Slippi', where guitar 
strumming overpowers bounce and focus 
loosens. They even stop attempting to fit 
the tracks into the flow of the set, and for the 
only time of the night, all onstage sound stops, 
reminding us of such a 'regular band' concept 
as between song banter. 

But this is a minor criticism for what 
was clearly a remarkable show. The gleeful 
atmosphere of the Glasgow crowd afterwards 
feels tangible, and no one leaves the venue 
unsatisfied. But Animal Collective have reached 



The set opens with 'In The Flowers', as Panda a point in their evolution where they need to 



Bear hatches his sample bank of their songs' 
electronic parts with the swirling piano line, 
and Avey folds himself around the lead vocal's 
long-distance love letter. Geologist trigger- 
controls the drums, and that first bass thump 



either adapt their history to the current format 
or leave it to the past. It's understandable that 
if you developed gills you'd want to check out 
dryland once in awhile, but not whileyr mid- 
way to Atlantis, y'know? 






II 



tV** Voifr 




the void 



wavves 

Words: Kev Kharas 
Illustration: Mimi Leung 



Slacker blood runs deep in pop. Deeper than today's plaid-smothered hipster, 
currently existing at some indeterminate point between 1994 (Crooked Rain, 
Crooked Rain, Clerks) and 1 999 (Enema of the State, American Pie). Ever since 
World War Two, to be slack is to be young, an evasion of daddy's suit chided 
in The Coasters' 'Yakkety Yak' and the outrageous anti-beatnik cinema that 
emerged around the turn of the Fifties. The archtype of 'the teenager' supplied 
a narcissistic, nihilistic identity many were fated not to shake. Frankie Lymon 
wasn't a juvenile delinquent, but he did die a heroin addict at 25. 

From street corner harmonies, then, to bedroom band, as unkempt peacocks 
follow audiences online. The latest embodiment of all that's slack and spare 
and rad is 22-year-old Nathaniel Williams, whose Wavves project- it surfs! 
It crashes! It drowns! -has been embraced by the internet more eagerly than 
a Rachel Bilson sex tape. 

So how's real life handling the hype? 

"I didn't really fucking do anything anyways," says Williams, slumber 
interrupted at home in San Diego. " I wake up - what's the time now? - around 
1 0.55 and I'll do a couple interviews, then I'll smoke weed and play a little XBox. 
And then me and Ryan will play music for a while. There's a routine but it's 
boring, and basically involves video games and weed. " 

That doesn't sound too bad to me. 

"No, it's not bad. I couldn't be doing anything else." 

Evidently. Williams has tried working for American Apparel, managing 
a record store and college (twice) but the latter "just didn't work" and "retail 
fucking sucks". He jacked it all in and sought solace in his record collection. 

"It started around 10 or 1 1; I asked for Nirvana, Nevermind and Misfits, 
Legacy Of Brutality, I think. I wanted the first Snoop Dogg record too, but my 



'I knew my parents didn't 
want me to listen to these 
bands' 



parents didn't give me any of the cassettes I asked for, they gave me Oasis' 
(What's The Story) Morning Glory? instead. " 

Did that get played much? 

" Haha, y'know what, actually I'm not gonna lie, I wore it thin regardless. 
I was just fucking 'Alright, fine I'll listen to it.' But it definitely left a taste in 
my mouth. I knew my parents didn't want me to listen to these bands so 
I tried doubly hard and once I did, it was like I'd found the holy grail, basically." 

Williams enthuses about his crusades, disembowelling Nirvana to find The 
Wipers, The Vaselines and Sonic Youth before jumping from them to Dinosaur Jr 
"It was this wrecking ball that threw me through all the music I should've been 
listening to anyway. I got into it young. " 

When Nathan was eleven he was a "weirdo", attending private Christian 
school in Virginia. It was 1997. Napster wasn't launched for another two years, 
MySpace for another six. Why did this boy want to listen to Legacy Of Brutality? 

"Skateboarding. I put together a board, got a couple videos and the 
soundtracks were so fucking cool. Maybe it was a Zero video, I dunno, but Souls 
Of Mischief were on it, Bad Brains and I was like, 'Holy Shit, this is so cool'." 

If anything deserves to benefit from the current excavation of Nineties 
slackness, it's the skate park; slacker cathedrals, a place the post-innocence, 
pre-pub weirdos can exist unharassed, to drink, smoke, chat shit. Wavves 
pays homage in the backyard skater art of a self-titled 1 2-inch, the seven-inch 
wrapped in grip tape, song titles littered with the gaggle drawn there 
('Summer Goth', 'No Hope Kids', 'Killr Punx...', 'Vermin'). 

Musically, there's an instinctive understanding of youth's endless summers 
and the bands that've captured that; whether it be Red Cross or Frankie Lymon, 
No Age or The Challengers. 

In the US, retails outlets dwindle, college grads face the worst job market for 
30 years. Williams has a record deal and is touring Europe with one of his oldest 
friends, drummer Ryan Ulsh, in tow. "Everything worked out real cosmic." 

Yeah man. Still, boredom persists. 

" I used to go out drinking every day. I just got bored of it for now. It's always 
the same in San Diego, the people, the parties. I like everyone here, don't get me 
wrong, but I'm definitely ready to get the fuck out and go do something else. " 

www.myspace.com/wavves 




-,-■3 vftft c^ho e^a &rif} c*rh o 




THE HANDSOME FAMILY 

The new album 'Honey Moon' 
released on April 20th 

"they come from heli& ditch 
armed with love" - NME 



THE DUKE & THE ICING 
Debut single 'IfYou Ever Get 
Famous* released da March 9th 

The Duke & The King are 
S intone Fc I Lev and Robert 
"Chicken" Burke 





MISS LANA REBEL 

Debut album 'AHlNecd' 
released on March l6th 

Whiskey sippin 4 cowboy ki ssi n " 
music fh™ Portland Oregon's 
Country Queen 



More details^ tour dates, downloads and 
news at www JoasemusiCtCtim 




planb|9 



4 



syntheme 

Words: Anna-Marie Fitzgerald 

This is Syntheme: a blur of blonde and hot 
pink, an accidental 'acid house Barbie', 
with neon hardware under one arm and 
a Microkorg on her shopping list, "I'm not 
really a girly girl, but I like pink, it seems 
to have become a Syntheme trademark. . . " 

Behind the mathematically-monikered, 
wired-up alter ego is Louise Wood, who just 
turned 24, was born in Aberdeen and has 
lived in Weymouth, Brighton and - of course 
- Berlin. In 2007 she spent eight months 
in techno-town. "It was a fantastic place 
to live," she says, "But the cheese was 
rubbish and they don't know what cider is. 

"It seems a bit cliched now for a musician 
to move to Berlin, but there's good reason. 
I was working over 52 hours a week in 
Brighton and was still skint. I had time 
in Berlin to make music and have a life." 

She's been back for a year and working 
on her debut album, the no-fuss, speedy-fun 
Lasers' n' Shit. It lines up twenty tracks, some 
old, some new, and bookendsthem with 
the startlingly-voiced 'Mimtro' and Eighties 
funk of 'Electro Reading'. Squelching 
through acid house, dirty disco and a bunch 
of freaky samples, it throws together a party 
for dank raves and the morning-after crawl. 
Mosttracksarebuiltona Roland TB-303 
and coded with ridiculous, meaningless 
titles ('FabaceaeCPea', 'Frf3k Up!', 'Finnial') 

Back to Lou, the girl who played drums 
at school, sang in the choir, joined bands and 
discovered the Prodigy's 'Breathe' aged 1 1 
before ditching her college music courses 
because the boys pissed her off: "I have 
found it hard when I'm treated differently 
for being female. Since I started playing gigs 
I've experienced all kinds of shit. Atone 
I played in Holland the bouncer on the door 
refused to let me in. He didn't believe I was 
playing. I don't think being a woman affects 
my work, but socially it's hard sometimes." 

Post-Lasers..., there's a new side 
project on the way called KoBi, and she's 
started an internet label, Bun-E "to release 
some tasty little EPs and compilations" 
(for free). Keeping up the day job at 
a charity, these days she might only get 
to party once a month, but she still loves 
acid. "Something about it makes me feel 
energised." Her own late take on the genre 
sounds so authentically old school that until 
recently forums were pondering exactly 
who was behind it -how does she feel 
about the posts headed 'Is-Syntheme- 
Aphex-Twin'? 

"I am, can't you tell?" 

www.syntheme.co.uk 

10 1 plan b 




blkjks 

Words: Petra Davis 

"I drowned into this," enthuses BLKJKS bassist 
Molefi Makananise. "I always knew I wanted to 
play stuff like this, even though I'm from an Afrojazz 
background, not a rock background at all. But this 
is beyond my expectations. This had to be, had 
to happen, had to exist." 

Makananise is calling from New York, where, 
at the fabled Electric Ladyland studios, he and the 
remaining BLK JKS - lead vocalist Linda Buthelezi, 
guitarist Mpumi Mcata, and drummer Tshepang 
Ramoba - are recording their album, settling happily 
into the unaccustomed, dirty snow of an East Coast 
winter. Their current release, the 'Mystery' EP, 
produced by Brendan Curtis of Secret Machines, 



'It's a cool thing to 
ignore cultural 
restrictions' 



is their first release outside of South Africa; all 
four hail from East Rand in Johannesburg. The EP 
brindles dub, psych-rock, ska and mbaqanga - 
South Africa's Zulu blues tradition - in complex 
variegation. Unfamiliarity can account for some 
of the critical difficulty with the joyful, densely 
abstruse BLK JKS sound, but Makananise is 
unrepentant: "You could say we use a whole lot 
of artillery, in terms of materials, pedals, sound 
effects. But really what we do is let the songs reveal 
themselves to us. And it's amazing - that we keep 
progressing just that way. " 

For some of the people who are hearing your 
music now, their only exposure to South African 
music will be Paul Simon's Grace/and. 

"There's so much mbaqanga influence in 
Graceland. It's interesting, because mbaqanga 



is now a South African trademark, but its pioneers, 
people like Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, 
were using Western instruments and expanding 
on the 1 -4-5 chord progression. So for Paul Simon 
to take mbaqanga out and expose this tradition 
to the world was important. It's a relationship." 

There is an increasing number of younger 
Western musicians drawing very directly from 
African and Afro-Brazilian musics, in transactions 
sometimes painfully unequal. BLKJKS, together 
in various forms since 2000, self-releasing singles 
within the contained Johannesburg scene, first 
came to the attention of Western interests when 
they caught the eye of Favela enthusiast Diplo. 

"Yeah, he was definitely looking out for 
an interesting band in South Africa. He wanted 
to sign us to Mad Decent, so he sent someone 
from the label over to help us develop. In the end 
we stayed independent a while longer." 

"But I think it's honestly a cool thing to 
ignore cultural restrictions. You're not in a cage; 
the world is yours too. I would encourage artists 
from anywhere to view themselves as citizens of 
the universe, explore and incorporate traditions 
outside of their own cultures. " 

It's a generous attitude that speaks of 
genuine conviction. For decades, black South 
African musicians were stratified by appalling 
laws restricting integration of different tribal 
communities and cultural heritages; for many, 
the commingling of disparate techniques and 
traditions is itself radical. In December, BLK JKS 
played the Soweto Arts Festival for the second time. 

"We love playing there. Because it happens 
in the hood, and because talented promoters put 
it together and brilliant South African musicians 
come and play there for the people of Soweto. 
It's growing every year, and now there are even 
some international visitors. In Soweto if they don't 
like you, they really let you know, but everyone went 
crazy. It was raining so hard and there were people 
dancing in the rain everywhere, shouting for more." 

www.myspace.com/blkjks 



M 



- PUSHING BOUNDARIES -AR 



jribbet lore 



- FILM - WORDS - CROSSING GEI 




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E-OOfTT'kfrtl 





Presenting the first in a one-part 
guide to France's most pet-friendly, 
owner-confuzzling label 



A quick digital bounce through the world of French 
indie purveyors Le Vilain Chien feels - and looks - 
like the dream projection of a sugar-tripping six- 
year-old at a birthday party: rainbow-coloured 
glucose/vomit burps, happy dancing friends, wilfully 
tuneless singalongs over musical chairs electrobeats, 
puppies and pussycats ("Cats and dogs are a lot 
of fun to us, especially when they're ugly") all come 
looming out of a void coloured in the bright blues 
and pinks of synthesised candy. 

Graphic designer La Chenille, of Le Club 
des Chats, provides the signature pet art plus 



'If they weren't our 
friends at first, they 
are now' 



typography, and the artists produce their own cover 
graphics, in the spirit of DIY. 

Le Vilain Chien, who also "take full charge of 
the tours, gigs, record releases and distribution", 
are part of a pan-European network of DIY and indie 
promoters, makers, doers and players. "The bands 
on our label hail from different parts of France and 
are very active locally," says Chenille. "Some have 
their own record label, or have released records 
on other labels, and often tour France or elsewhere 
in the world. Last year, we organised a European 
tour for BJ Snowden, who lives in the USA. " 



Although Le Chien claim no relation to the 
Antifolk scene, there are parallels in the Modus 
Operandi, ethos and aesthetic (although these guys 
have turned up the cute and badass bars to almost 
three times the volume). 

The sound is appealingly gross and eccentric: 
"We are generally drawn to artists who have 
a unique musical approach, a personal style and 
a strong personality. We are fond of things that 
are both pop and disturbing, of unconventional 
musical practices. We like stuff that's gleeful, 
sincere and innovative. What do all our releases 
have in common? Maybe a certain kind of quiet 
madness inside all of them." Sometimes it's a quiet 
madness - Regis Victor, for example, are fairly polite 
and pretty in their weirdness - and sometimes it 
ain't; if you didn't think stoner noisecore, and 
puking Moog electrowooze could be cute, you 
should take in some Oso El Roto and find out. 

Le Vilain Chien, in their own words, "function 
on a small scale, like a little family. We only put out 
records by people that we know and value" and 
many of their artists live right there in the same 
town. " If they weren't our friends at first, they 
are now." 

The whole thing, indeed, gives the impression of 
a bunch of buddies having a wicked time together. 
And then, there are the parties: loosely part of the 
distribution and publicity strategy, but more for the 
pure joy of it, the "Unsound Festival" (Le Festival 
Bancal) looks like the best night, hands-down, for 
those sick of taking themselves and the music too 
seriously (or wishing to be transported back into 
their six-year-old selves). Have a browse through 



the flyers (all artwork is online) and you'll wish 
you were there: far from being a po-faced showcase 
of the label's biggest hopes, the "very festive" 
parties offer games, such as the 'owl-drawing 
contest' (and frankly, who doesn't want to 
be at a party with an owl-drawing contest in 
play), balloons, "cheerful music playing in the 
background", and all manner of juicy delight. 

"Our programming policy is akin to our record 
releasing policy; the entrance fee is not high and 
beer is cheap. . .What more can you ask for? " 

No big agenda, no heavy credos or caveats, 
synths instead of guitars, pleasure above politics. 
Call itAntipop. Call itwhatyou like. It looks and 
sounds like the best fun around. 

www.levilainchien.com 




12 | plan b 



IVKJRPHICA 

mikhall 



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the void 






Words: Ben Jacobs 
Illustration: Vincent Vanolli 



Amiga enthusiast 
Max Tundra makes 
friends anc/enemies 
on the road 




Bowery Ballroom, New York 

My first ever gig in this glorious city. It was 
ridiculously cold, something like -20 °C. Warmed 
up with incredible food at Vanessa's Dumpling 
House, where I recreated a favourite London 
meal. The NYC version was far superior. Tonight 
I supported The Rosebuds - with very different 
music from myself. I feared their fans wouldn't go 
for my stuff, but they even bought a couple of tins 
of Max Tundra soup. 

Le Poisson Rouge, New York 

Earlier that day I went to look at the Flatiron 
Building, which I had been obsessing over prior 
to my trip, then across the road to Shake Shack. 
I froze my hands off while scoffing a hot dog 
and a vanilla malt milkshake. The LPR show was 




Mw-^K 



tremendously well received; I don't recall ever 
having such an enthusiastic reception (people were 
screaming between songs). It felt like people really 
respected what I was doing, in stark contrast to. . . 

Crawdaddy, Dublin 

Advice: Never play a gig if you are the special guest 
at a weekly student night specialising in Kaisers, 



One guy was jabbing 
at my keyboards, 
while another was 
unplugging them 



Killers and Kooks. This 
introduction to the Irish 
leg of my tour was quite 
the brisk slap to the chops. 
In actual fact, there were only 
about five people spoiling 
the evening, but each was 
as unpleasant as all the 
previous audience assholes 
I've ever encountered rolled 
into one. One guy was 
jabbing at my keyboards, 
another was unplugging 
them. A third grabbed the 
mic stand and used it to slam 
the mic into my mouth while 
I was singing. The last straw 
was when a punter showed 
me his mobile phone onto 
which he had typed 'Play 
something good'. The 
rest of the audience gave a 
cheer when I asked whether 
they thought I was already 
obeying the instruction. 
I then reminded the texter 



the second room had a DJ playing very different 
music to mine and suggested he did the rest of 
us a favour and fucked off there. 

Roisin Dubh, Galway 

The promoter told me that James Blunt had played 
a gig at Roisin Dubh to 20 people, a month before 
releasing his No 1 album. I was delighted that 
my audience was nearly three times that, and 
wondered whether Parallax Error Beheads You 
might soon soar to the top. I bumped into an old 
friend of mine, and was surprised at the friendly 
nature of his conversation - last time we met he had 
handed me a letter, instructing me to read it once 
I got home. It contained a sequence of the most 
paranoid, dope-fuelled, hateful ramblings I had ever 
been handed. At some point, as so often through 
the years, he got the wrong end of the stick about 
something I said. I imagine I'll probably bump into 
him again next time I'm in Galway. 

Pavilion, Cork 

This gorgeous venue used to be a cinema, and some 
of the old Deco-esque flourishes are still in place. 
The Cork promoters were wonderful hosts. Support 
was Crayonsmith, friendly chaps who kindly offered 
to give me a lift to Belfast the next day in their van. 

Out To Lunch Festival, Belfast 

The van journey was most merry, and we exchanged 
many a quip about each other's aul wans. The Out 
To Lunch Festival must hold some serious sway 
in Belfast, as all of my albums were on prominent 
display in HMV. Leaving, I strolled along the high 
street and must have said " I wouldn't mind looking 
at the trainers in Office" a bit too loudly, as a youth 
surprised the hell out of me by being more helpful 
than any of the store employees. He followed me 
in and wandered around, showing me successively 
more outrageous footwear (silver quilted Nike boots 
-speeew) and suggesting that they'd "look lovely 
on me". I think he was just trying to impress his 
mates, but I was grateful for his elevation of my 
hitherto bigoted opinion of shellsuit-clad strangers. 



14 1 plan b 




Erttf fprfkuvawnt 




Gig could have been more crowded, not least because someone from my past 
I didn't need to see was there, and there were less people to hide behind. 

The Cavern, Exeter 

In amongst tonight's crowd were three of my lovely old friends up from 
Cornwall and Plymouth, and much high-fivery and japes did ensue. This and the 
remaining tour dates were with my friend Joe who makes fantastic music under 
the moniker Ben Butler And Mouse Pad. We stayed at a most peculiar room in 
a motel which called itself a townhouse. We let ourselves in to be greeted by 
terse printed signs instructing guests to be 'out by 1 0am'; unwelcome after 
an already late night and half an hour navigating Exeter's labyrinthine one-way 
"systems" looking for the only spare parking space in Devon. 

Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff 

Hurled out onto the street after four hours' sleep, I typed Clwb Ifor Bach's 
postcode into the borrowed sat-nav and selected the relaxing preset Irish lilt 
of 'Sean' to ease ourselves up the M5 and M4. We were running super early, 
so took a diversion to Glastonbury Tor, for a stroll and some fresh air. Also, 
I wanted to put 'Sean' through his paces, and he did us proud, delivering 
us from unmarked country lanes unto Cardiff in less than an hour. 

The Fleece, Bristol 

Someone had mentioned that there was an eccentric vintage synth museum 
on the outskirts of Bristol. We arrived atEMIS, a musical instrument shop 
stocked with all manner of dazzling keyboards. Andy, the owner, said that 
he now has so many synths upstairs that they are stacked atop one another and 
it is now very difficult to get into the room, but he would be happy to bring out 
anything we cared to look at. This is the man with TWO Fairlights (albeit broken 
ones). I fell in love with a Korg Poly-61 and made a £200 impulse purchase. 
It featured in all the subsequent shows, and I was grateful for its warmness 
of tone and fatness of chord, although less so for its curious habit of dropping 
in the odd ghost note when I wasn't playing it. Usually these spurious bleeps 
were in the correct key, which spooked us out a bit. The Fleece was lovely, mainly 
thanks to the curly-haired man who dances at the front of all Bristol shows ever. 

Cargo, London 

I selected all the support bands for this event- BB&MP, Lidl Richard, Pete Urn, 
Gf nuinf Guy and Silverlink. The coordinating of six acts, the first ever meeting 
of my new girlfriend and my mum, in a venue crowded to bursting with fans, 
old and new friends and tons of casual Old Street passers-by, was a logistical and 
physical headache, but delirious fun at the same time. Most people didn't know 
who the heck I was at the start, but one girl told me afterwards that she had 
been moved so much by my performance that she had been crying for much 
of my set, completely renewing my previously dented love of the general public. 

Freebutt, Brighton 

Last time I played this venue the support band was Snow Patrol. I thus predict 
great things for Ben Butler And Mouse Pad. I dedicated tonight's show to any 
of the audience who had failed to file their tax return by this evening's deadline, 
thus saddling themselves with a £1 00 fine. Stayed in a curious, dreamlike 
version of Fawlty To wers. The following morning I get thoroughly lost finding 
my way from my room back to reception. Drove Joe to Gatwick and grabbed 
myself a Wimpy moments later. 



play list: holy roar records 

Words: Alex Fitzpatrick 

Illustration: Adrian Fleet 

Weekend Nachos 

Prioritize 

I went to Indianapolis Dudefest last June, 
a small weekend festival organised by the 
righteous 'nude-punk grind kings' Phoenix 
Bodies. Weekend Nachos were a revelation - 
the vocalist sounds like a grumpy old man 
shitting his intestines out.This song has the 
best opening riff and breakdown ever and 
reminds me of people dressed up as robots 
stage-diving. It's available on Relapse's 
sweet This Comp Kills Fascists Vol 1. 



are so accomplished it's scary. We finally 
have a band on these fair isles that can 
stand toe-to-toe with Fugazi, Hot Snakes 
and Jesus Lizard, and look them in the 
eye with pride. 

The Now 

The Now 

This came out ages ago and featured 
members of Neil Perry and many other 
screamo luminaries. It's severely difficult 
to describe the impact the 57 seconds 
'IsThat Me, No It's The Other Guy With 20 
Arms' had on my1 9-year-old brain. Imagine 
a time in the past where moshing was about 
discordance, basement shows and good 
times rather than haircuts and hot merch. 



Frankmusik 

Done Done 

OK- he is probably going to be 

huge this year with G-A-Y (if it 

still exists?!) and 13-year-old girls 

but Frankmusik has been kicking 

around for a couple of years now, 

bubbling away under the surface. 

This tune absolutely defined 2008 

for me - in particular the summer. 

Put it on loud in your car with the windows 

down and try telling me there is a better beat 

and chorus for any situation. 

Outputmessage 

Glintz 

I really feel this is an undiscovered gem. 
I may be wrong, I may just be operating 
in the wrong circles.Apparently he isjust 
some science graduate who fancied his 
hand at electronic music. I can't decide 
if that makes him annoyingly talented, 
or shows up electronic music as being 
something anyone can do. Either way this 
song is what you wish Ibiza was like in 
your head, in a Utopian way, where you 
can take your friends and erase all the 
idiots. It's also all about cliched Londoner 
weekend trips to Brighton. In the summer. 
With fish and chips. 

Holy State 

Solid State Messiah (vs The Valve 
Viking) 

I haven't been as excited by a British rock 
band since, oh, 2008. For a new band, they 



The vocalist sounds 
like a grumpy old 
man shitting his 
intestines out 



The Tony Danza Tapdance 

Extravaganza 

Danza ll:The Electric Boogaloo 

Most stupid or best name ever? Regardless - 
this band have taken tech-metal/hardcore 
to an elaborate new level. I don't understand 
why these dudes aren't as revered as 
Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah. 
The riffs are impossible, the timings alien, 
the vocalist sounds drunk. It all aligns for 
an experience that, once you are tuned in, 
is unrivalled in modern heavy music. 

Swarm Of The Lotus 

Sward Of The Lotus 

Let's be honest - Mastodon totally sucked 
after Remission. Swarm Of The Lotus, in a 
justified universe would have been 1 00 times 
bigger - as they were 1 00 times better. The 
biggest backline ever for a DIY/underground 
band, and even bigger riffs. Seek out this 
band, HAIL, pay your respects and dues. 

Righteous punk imprint Holy Roar reissue 
RoloTomassi's debut EPIaterthis month. 
www.holyroarrecords.com 



planb|15 



the void 




Were you to capture the noise of several hundred 
tonnes of rock avalanching down the sides of 
Mount Etna, then channel the whole thing through 
seriously deranged saxophone, drums and bass, 
the results might almost approach the amorphous 
cacophony of Zu. Except the trio -Jacopo Battaglia 
(drums), Massimo Pupillo (bass) and Luca T Mai (sax) 
- are from Rome, not Sicily. The point, however, 
remains. Live, they're a quite incredible prospect: 
where breathtaking instrumental aptitude meets 
lung-puncturing brutality, and grooves that shoe 
you harder than boot-shaped Italy itself delivering 
a size nine to the breadbasket. Honing that attack 
since 1 999, they hit a monolithic recorded stride 
on latest album Carboniferous, their debut for 
Ipecac and the first non-collaborative full-length 
Zu effort since 2002's Igneo. Although that latter 
claim is, technically, not 1 00 per cent true, most 
notably as Mike Patton, the head of their fresh label 
home and lord of all things noisy and a little manic, 
contributes his unmistakable tones to a brace of 
tracks. Patton's big-haired buddy King Buzzo from 
the Melvins slings guitar on 'Chthonian', with 
a handful of additional musical cameos elsewhere 
from Italian musicians. Semantics aside, Massimo 
takes us back to their Carboniferous period. . . 



Ostia 

A pummelling opening, bass spasms and militaristic drums 
colliding with glorious Lightning Bolt-level harmonics. 

"The neighbourhood where we come from. A densely 
populated, ugly place on the seaside.The only thing that ever 
happened is that director Pier Paolo Pasolini was killed here. 
Lots of junkies. Lots of our friends from the squat scene were 
involved in the gabba scene at some point.This is for them." 



'Music that really 
comes from our 
bowels' 



Chthonian 

Carboniferous's heaviest lurch features the scraping riff-craft 
of King Buzzo of Melvins, locking into beautifully ugly 
hypnotic doom-laden breakdowns. . . 
"Chthonian is a Greek word for the underworld. 
Chthonic deities, as opposed to the Olympic ones, 
are linked to the instincts, life and death cycles, and 
vital force." 



Carbon 

Sax as played through the horn of a big rig truck and 
a hint of the passages when Rage Against The Machine 
approximate 'Kashmir'; the devil's work, naturally... 

"The carbon atom consists of six neutrons, six electrons, 
six protons: 666. Because the carbon atom has only three 
active electron inertia levels, it is always subject to subatomic 
transitional death. Carbon is the main element in the 
structure of the 'known' universe. The planet earth and all life 
are made of carbon atoms. This is why everything is subject 
to sickness, death, and decomposition." 

Beata Viscera 

Dizzying drum clicks and thuds give way to squealing sax 
and a build-up of pure sense-arresting drama . . . 

"The title comes from a renaissance madrigal, and it talks of 
the blessed belly of Virgin Mary. In our case, of blissful bowels. 
Playing music that really comes from our bowels, and living 
a life with guts." 

Erinys 

See 'Beata Viscera', only with harder drums and infinite 
broken bass strings... 

"Again, Greek mythology: the three Furies. In a certain way, 
they are a personification of karma, of paying for one's 
actions. The classic theme of guilt and punishment." 

Soulympics 

Mike Patton's first appearance, creepy keyboards beneath 
vocals seemingly projected through copper piping, slipping 
into half-vomited Tomahawk-fashion narratives as Zu 
clunk ominously around him. . . 

"Mike's vocals; his words and his title. He was watching the 
Olympics last summer, so it talks of Olympics of the soul ! " 

Axion 

Floor toms and kick drums straight from the Earth's core, 
rudely interrupted with frantic freeform madness, 
dwindling to oddly alluring sax. . . 

"Scientists all over the world are attempting to discover 
what particles make up dark energy and matter. Recent 
theories say that 95 per cent of the universe is actually 
'hidden' -dark. According to scientist William Wester, 
axions are one of the theoretical particles under 
consideration. And at the same time, 95 per cent of human 
DNA is still considered by orthodox scientists 'junk DNA', 
but it only means that they don't have a clue of what we 
are made of." 

Mimosa Hostilis 

Super-amplified reed vibrations and, fittingly, a definite 
mind-melting atmosphere. . . 

"This scientist Rick Strassman speaks of DMT [the 
potent psychedelic drug dimethyltryptamine] as 'the spirit 
molecule', because it activates the visionary side of the 
brain. The funny thing is that this molecule is found 
everywhere: humans, animal, plants. . .yet it's considered 
illegal ! Mimosa Hostilis is a plant that contains a lot 
of DMT-that's why it is sacred in Brazilian Amazon, 
underthenameJurema." 

Obsidian 

What begins as a potential interlude from the exhausting 
attack soon reveals its true colours. . . 

"Obsidian is a beautiful black stone. The first wars 
were fought with obsidian weapons. Wl Thompson likens 
the obsidian to 'A dark, chthonic milk which flowed out 
of the breast of the volcano'. Obsidian was considered 
a sacred material charged with 'mana', the power of 
the Goddess." 

Ore 

Patton part two, and inarguably his superior cameo, 
throat singing chants over buzzing guttural bass drones 
that climaxes in hellish fashion; genuinely unsettling. . . 

"Ore comes from latin, where 'orcus' means hell. 
Underworld again." 

www.zuism.conn 



16| plan b 




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the void 




music that time forgot: supersister 

Words: Greg Weeks 

The Espers bandleader recalls some 
forgotten heroes of the European 
counterculture 



The Seventies saw thousands of bands from 
mainland Europe explode across the global 
counterculture. Today, stylistic monikers like 
Krautrock, Rock In Opposition, progressive, 
symphonic, folk and acid rock often overshadow 
the names of the individual participants, but the 
latter live on in many of today's most important - 
and sometimes, equally unknown - musicians. 
It's common knowledge among aficionados that 
the continent's rock fizzled out along with the peace 
and love generation, leaving England and America 
to reclaim the throne. As with any era, bands of 
equal importance found vastly varying degrees 
of success, yet time (read: changing tastes) quickly 
obscured cult and arena acts alike, leaving to the 
CD reissue the task of re-introducing the decade 
as a more or less unified strata from which to 
patiently mine gems and re-evaluate hierarchies. 

One of mainland Europe's shiniest diamonds 
was Dutch act Supersister. They were not the most 
successful rock band from the Netherlands - that 
honour likely rests on the shoulders of Golden 
Earring or Earth And Fire. But Supersister garnered a 
reputation through a string of festival performances 
and a major label contract that spanned five 
albums. That they fell out of favour by the Eighties 
is no surprise, given that the music they are most 
associated with - Soft Machine-style Canterbury 
jazz rock and Zappa-esque fusions of angular rock 
and humour- likewise fell out of favour. 

Supersister formed in the late Sixties as a high 
school band called Super OK Sister. Soon after, their 
original lead singer dropped out and left keyboardist 
and general musical savant Robert Jan Stips to voice 
for the band. They were still teenagers when they 



forged their epic and accomplished debut Present 
From Nancy, a quartet of Stips on keys, Ron van 
Eck on bass, Marco Vrolijk on drums and Sacha 
van Geest on flute. It was dynamic and visceral jazz- 
infused rock that, sans electric guitar, contained 
passages heavy enough to obliterate the dingiest 
sonics of their contemporaries. 

It's likely their humour stemmed as much from 



The continent's rock fizzled along 
with the peace and love 
generation's momentum 



their youth as a love for Zappa's late-Sixties 
offerings, and what sets their dark comedy 
apart is Stips' lyrics. His humour, both cutting and 
whimsical, reached its apex with The Groupies In 
The Band', a psychedelic melange that comments 
on countercultural excess with a wit that rings true 
to this day. Elsewhere, the melancholic 'No Tree Will 
Grow (On Too High A Mountain)' finds increasing 
relevance in its warning of self-destruction via 
individual isolation. It opens with one of the most 
succinct and thought-provoking lyrics in history: 
"Life is no good friend, good friendship never ends, " 
a line even more staggering given that it was written 
and sung in the maker's second language. 

The band would ultimately land a Polydor deal, 
and five albums tracing their path from serious 
musicians having serious fun to serious musicians 



acting more or less seriously. They struggled 
through line-up alterations, and voyaged deep into 
instrumental jazz-rock territory (perhaps too deep). 
And, while bands today seem to last ten years and 
produce three or four albums with less difficulty, 
it was the Sixties/Seventies tradition to release 
fiveorsixin half that time and then makelike the 
Groundhogs and split, which is pretty much the way 
it went for Supersister. 

As exceptional as 
the quartet were in 
their salad days, their 
lack of international 
attention resurfaced 
in the Nineties as full- 
blown disrespect, the 
band suffering the 
ignominious fate of 
the 2-fer reissue, great for cash strapped music 
freaks but devastating for the band's album art and 
sequencing. It seems that the appearance of one of 
the band's earliest singles, 'She Was Naked', in the 
Joy Division biopic Contra/spurred renewed interest 
in the band who, by this time, had reformed to tour 
the Progfest scene in LA. The untimely demise of 
van Geest appeared to put an official end to the 
band's renewed activities, but a forthcoming sold- 
out performance at NEARfest 2009 in Bethlehem, 
PA trumps the declaration. Perhaps they came to 
feel that the best way of honouring a fallen comrade 
was to keep his music in the ears of those who 
need to experience it. Whatever, I'm happy to have 
them back, and that their discs have been properly 
re-issued by Cherry Red imprint Esoteric with 
tremendous loving care. Please do check them out. 



18 1 plan b 






















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the void 




Words: Emily Bick, Anna- 
Marie Fitzgerald, Lauren 
Strain and kicking_k 

llustrations: Sac Magique 



Where Plan B writers knock heads to 
new sounds for your edutainment 



Morton Valence 

Falling Down The Stairs (Bastard) 

Those still with venture capital to splash 
gesturally should know they can invest in 
Morton Valence's forthcoming album - 
scan contracts at their website. 

Emily: Falling down the stairs of 1 989! 
Kick:Their first single was twee as hell and 
about sailors, sailing. It was so ultra-pop, 
it made me think they might shade into 
subversive. . . I'm kind of rethinking that. 
Lauren: Every time I hear a Morton Valence 
song it has absolutely no relation to any 
other song of theirs I've heard before. 
Maybe I just have a terrible memory. . . ? 
Kick: It's an 'electronic fairy tale' apparently. 
Could do with more goblins. 
Emily:There's no story at all here, 
and actually this is now like un-fun, 
Mogadon Roxette. 

Anna-Marie: Sixth-form bassline. Like my 
attempts to 'Teach Yourself Guitar' aged 1 6. 
Lauren:The music itself is hemmed in by 
her unbothered vocals. It's itching to get 
started, but she's so bored and apathetic 
over the top that it can't. . .take off. 

Moon Unit 

Connections (DFA/Supersoul) 

One must assume they're named after 

Frank Zappa's daughter, responsible 

for popularising Valley Girl speak, 

and therefore, like, wow, total 

culture hero. 

Kick:The press seem to be convinced electro 

is going to be the big thing this year (again). 

I just can't see it... 

Anna-Marie: Can't tell if that's a girl or a guy 

singing, Hercules And Love Affair-style. . . 

think it's a gal. 

Lauren: And she's trying too hard to sound 

ominous: "Hearts bleeding, fists beating, 

no understanding", done in this semi-siren 

ambiguous hum. But it's actually nowhere 



near frightening enough. My favourite 

electro is the stuff that makes me want 

to poo myself. 

Emily: Do none of today's songs have 

a chorus? The satellite pulseback bassline 

is nice, the. . 

Kick: I think it's a builder, but her job is to 

ignore all that. I don't hate, but it doesn't 

threaten etiquette, could last a really 

longtime. 

Anna-Marie:That harmony was pretty sweet. 

Otherwise flat disco vocals, no soul. I can't 

explain the whole spacedisco revival. 

LauremThe song is called 'Connections', 

yet it's so emotionless. . . ? Surely they must 

know how vapid they sound. Maybe it's 

done ironically. 

Kasms 

Bone You (Trouble) 

One ex-Test Icicle plus friends. Uniquely 
ill-spelt names Ai//eGoogle. 
Kick: Grinding histrionics. One of my 
favourite hip-hop headfucks is when 
Diddy says, "Madd women wantin ' to 
bone Sean Combs "- a) they're 'mad(d)' 
b)Hehehe. 

Emily: Welcome to the that scene in your 
favourite LA-teen-vampire-punk film. 
Everyone's drinking Mad Dog at the beach 
and they've set all the trash cans on fire, 
there are lots of neon zebra bikinis and 
the cops will show up in approximately 
57 seconds. 

Lauren: Snotty-gal pop-punk. . . ? Like Moon 
Unit, this is not scary enough. I demand to 
be putrified with fear please. 
Anna-Marie: Lightspeed Champ's gone 
country. The others have gone to Camden. 
Lauren: Red and black striped tights, 
heavy kohl, pale wrist clamped with chunky 
plastic bracelets (hearts, stars, letters 
spelling out names), lots of silver rings. 
I know, 'cause I used to (try to) be one. 



thecocknbullkid 

I'm Not Sorry/There's A Mother In 
Our Bed (Moshi Moshi) 

Whereas searching for this UK soloist on 
her second single can provide instant life 
lessons regarding hanky codes, basket 
parties and vampire runs. 

Anna-Marie: Oh yes! East London charity 
shop keyboards! This is more like it. . .rubbish 
drum machines kick in... 
Emily: Now thisls a song that builds. . . 
Kick: Like Little Boots, it's good to hear 
someone doing Girls Aloud on a budget. 
Emily: No, the synths are better and there 
are minor keys. What are those drums? 
Typewriter bongo hybrids? And a sneaky 
808 attack? 

Anna-Marie: I have to confess, she's 
someone whose name I've seen on flyers 
and thought 'fluorescent scene rapper chick', 
but this is way better than that. Well slick! 
Lauren:The B-side is very MIA.Those 
nonplussed, multi-tracked vox, mantra-like, 
disinterested; that ffffshhwhwwwapppp 
bass (I'm so articulate). 
Emily: Chantable as hell. How many remixes 
do you think we'll see by summer? So many 
drum, handclap and droney parts to slice up. 
Kick: Pretty soft-edged, but more unbothered 
about coolness than kittening up for success. 
And, yeah, the disparity between even the 
two tracks on this single suggests she's 
packing plenty of facets. 

Casiokids 

Fot I Hose/Verdens Storste Land 
(Moshi Moshi) 

From Bergen, in Norway. Casio itself began 
in Tokyo. Its first product was a ring that 
held a cigarette, "allowing the wearer to 
smoke the cigarette down to its nub while 
also leaving the wearer's hands free". Hai! 
Emily:The start of this sounds like if some fat 
furry muppets with nozzles for noses were 



honking away and wiggling their bushy 
eyebrows while squatting up and down. 
Kick: Muppets. . .squatting? In an anarcho- 
syndicalist way? 

Emily: No - and not in a rude way, either. . . 
just up and down, rhythmic-like. 
Kick: I'm always cheered to hear 
arrangements that may involve all 
concerned sticking a tongue out the 
corner of their mouth. 
Emily: Someone choking a small animal 
in the background - or frottaging a balloon ! 
Lauren: Emily said 'frottaging', arrrgh ! Kick, 
do I overtake you as the Plan B resident 
prude? Rude words make me cry. 
Anna-Marie: I'd like to hear some shouty 
Late Of The Pier/indie-cool boy vocals 
over this. 

Kick: Yeah, I guess the one thing it never does 
is focus the cleverness or the energy in 
one place..? 

Emmy The Great 

First Love (Close Harbour) 

She's been an official one to watch so long 
she's probably given a strata of sensitive 
kids eyestrain, but the album is coming! 
Promise! Probably! 

Kick: Wow. Borrows plot of Sam Beckett's 
First Love. Hm.That is a high-stakes game 
to play. Does anyone know what Beckett 
dug, musically? I do not thinkhe would jig. 
Lauren: He would walk around in circles. 
Over and over again, with an overwhelming 
sensation of despair and the inability to ever 
stop walking around in circles. 
Kick:Also references Leonard Cohen. Bad 
timing. Everyone saying, "Oh yeah, it's got 
a bit from that X-Factor No 1 on it" . 
Anna-Marie: Controversial -wonder if she 
auditioned ever. 

Lauren: It's been much written-aboutthat 
she's got this quite caustic way with words; 
into some fluffy scenario she'll pop a picture 



20 1 plan b 



the void 




Could do with more goblins 



of brains splattered onto the windscreen 
or something ('MIA'). But it's true. 
Kick: On the down side, she's cursed. . .what 
could she have done to offend the fates so? 
OHWAIT:EMMYTHE GREAT! HUBRIS! 
Lauren: I like that she's not afraid to be 
teenagery.Why not? The experiences 
that most shape us are probably the ones 
we look back on as being sickly and 
sweet and typical. But that's why they were 
special, 'cause you never do it again. 
And this song might be sugary and twinkly 
and nostalgic, but that's what first love 
is like! I WIN. 

Shuttle 

Tunnel/Bad Guts (NinjaTune) 

UK label seeks US producer for warm sulks, 
three-waying with Cadence Weapon for 
the flip. 

Kick: I recently reclassified 'wonky' 

as 'funstep'.This isn't funstep. It's more. . . 

glumstep. 

Lauren: I could eat the whop-whop bass for 

dinner. Fwopstep.This is one of the best 

things I've heard in ages. 

Kick: Imagine if they actually did pump this 

through the tube's public speakers. 

Emily: People would jump. However, Hike 

this.That skippy-thud drum is the sound of 

a person under a train. Perastaltic. 

Kick: Backing vocals so treated they don't 

sound human anymore. Chipmunk rave 

meets paranoid urban bass. 

Emily: I like that the sample is all about pain 

and it's this awful queasy squeal. 

Lauren:The bass is like bullets when 

it stutters. I feel castigated by the chorus: 

"You didn't try hard enough ".The melody 

is pretty 'Yay! ', but then that bit comes in and 

he's all 'But you're RUBBISH'. 

Anna-Marie: You've got to love that 

throwaway acid-house-hardcore. All cheap 

and nasty like a hit of poppers. Messy. 



The Invisible 

London Girl (Accidental) 

Matthew Herbert's label, plus his 
production. Comes in visible physical 
formats, for convenience. 

Emily: Reminds me of The Neptunes. . . it's the 
shifty smoooothness. 
Kick: It's a slow lope. Sumptuous, even. 
Lauren: I'd say more. . .flumpy. Like; 'Hey, 
look at my heartstoppingly-expensive sofa, 
aren'tthesecushionsjustso huge and 
cloudlike you could lose yourself in them 
while gazing at your reflection in the glass 
coffee table? In fact, my coffee table is so 
damn fine I think about humping 
it sometimes'. 

Kick: (Changing subject) Maybe the bits 
aside from the smoooooth grooooove are 
too pretty. The Neptunes would have some 
noise like a car changing gears incorrectly, 
or a UFO cattle mutilation. 
Emily: And there are lots of little plucky 
parts sprinkled on top and woven through. 
Lauren: Listen to the bass. It's basically 
'Another One Bites The Dust'. Dun ! 
Dun ! Dun ! This is sleazy, but half-assed. 
And if there's anything I don't like, it's 
a half-assed sleaze. 

Anna-Marie: I was so hopeful. I don't think 
there are enough songs about London 
girls -it's all New York this and Paris that. 
This won't be putting us on the map though 
-waytooloungecore. 

Esser 

Let's Work It Out (Transgressive) 

Signed yr not ungrateful Void editor up to 
his fan club unasked. ID number is 1 
digits, which suggests a fanbase dwarfing 
millenial cults or small corporations. 

Kick: I have mixed feelings about Esser. 
But he's a pop star, for sure. 
Anna-Marie: Is that eight seconds of 
a Timbaland/Justin collab at the start? If only. 



This could be JamieT (there's his accent) 
at a bad disco (sounds like diluted Just Jack 
radio fodder). 
Kick: I think he has a lot of ideas. I don't think 

he's trying to do things the easy way - 

although my favourite bits are the tangents 

and breakdowns. 

Emily: No-the B-side sounds like a souped 

up version of one late Blur or Damon 

Albarn song. Yes, that's what it is. And the 

A-side sounded like it took some chords 

from 'World Of Water' by New Musik. 

Oh, I'm getting old. . .everything sounds like 

something else... 

Anna-Marie: Cute shimmery disco bits 

threaten to dance through . . .but don't. 

He's way too earnest for a young wannabe 

pop 'un,zzz, sorry! 

Esiotrot 

Tammy Is Lez (Sounds experience) 

A band bamed after a Roald Dahl book 

(unless that's some stellar coinkidink). 

Anagram of what shelled reptile? 

(No prize). 

Kick: It's funny that horns in funk are really 

sensual instruments, but in indie they're. . . 

not so much. 

Emily: Advert-tastic. . . it's the sound of 

the quirky, caring broadband/phone/ 

insurance company. 

Anna-Marie: So far so twee. Makes me 

think of animated pre-Eighties kids'TV 

shows Made In England. 

Lauren: It is exactly Los Campesinos! 

He's got the same accent! He's talking 

about going for a drive and photographs ! 

He's even doing a call-and-response with 

himself! 

Kick: Sounds classic, but. .. I'm jonesing 

for some twists, or perversions; some 

mistakes, even. 

Emily: Agreed - and the xylophone ain't 

enoughofarandomiser. 



Speech Debelle 

TheKey(BigDada) 

This fresh UK rapper has a tattoo of musical 
notation around her wrist. Jingle? Check 
her YouTube channel - SpeechDebelleTV- 
for an introductory video... or wait for the 
album in May. 

Lauren:This is the first time I have heard 
a clarinet in this kind of context. It's singing 
right out, as well, not skronking or 
stammering like the sax, which makes for 
a satisfying textural contrast. In fact, this 
whole thing is a good patchwork of differing 
intents/executions. 
Kick: And without the cheesier hooks, 
I'd expect. It just kind of rises and falls. 
And she's very self-assured - the flow 
is so consistent and confident that you 
forget the effort it must take. 
Anna-Marie:This falls (just) on the right 
of a public service broadcast. It's conscious 
hipjazz. She sounds super-classy. 
Emily: Skippy! And how does she breathe? 
Lauren:They should play this song when 
kids have to choose an instrument to 
play and drag their graffiti'd rucksacks 
along to the music room thinking how 
they'd rather it was flu-immunisation day. 
Anna-Marie: I could totally imagine 
her on the bill at Book Slam or Latitude 
charming urban literary types -and that's 
not necessarily a bad thing ! No wonder that 
Lily Allen's constantly wracked with fear and 
self-doubt in West London when there are 
girls like this out there. 



singles of the month 

Emily and Lauren: Shuttle 
'Tunnel'/'Bad Guts' 
Anna-Marie and Kick: 

thecocknbullkid 'I Might Be Wrong'/ 
'There's A Mother In Our Bed' 



plan b 1 21 



the void 

when we meet 

Words: Ringo P Stacey and kicking_k 

Presenting new bands, 
new hooks to get stuck in 
yr quivering forebrain 



The Bumblebees 

How cute is too cute? How nice is too nice? 
These are serious ethical questions asked 
by the three social scientists (combined 
age: 61 ) named after nature's tidiest hivers. 
The questions are phrased as lo-fi indie pop - 
voice, guitar and synth songs classified as 
solids ('My Kaleidoscope'), liquids ('Internal 
World') or gas ('Fluffy Clouds Of Joy'). 
The songs are composed from the inside 
of brightly-coloured children's rides, for 
empiric reasons. 
www.myspace.com/thebumblebeesinfestya 

Curren$y 

The message rings hard from his portal: 
"CURREN$Y DOES NOT WORK WELL WITH 
SUCKAZ". Something hints it's a lesson that's 
been hard learned. Once signed to LiP Wayne's 
vanity label Young Money - appropriate given 
his superficial likeness to former Hot Boy BG, 
slurring boasts and confessions in an amiable if 
slightly sinister drawl. One hit ('Where Da Cash 
At?') and a shelved album later he left in 2007 
and his work's been in rude health since. Of 
2008's seven mixtapes the one you need is 
concluding redux Fin, proof that he emulated 
Wayne's lyricism as much as his productivity. 
www.myspace.com/flyspitta 



Sharp humanity, 
populist spirit and 
endearingly ropey 
singing 




lleMonae 

)ook friends with the vestigial flesh 
ndage behind yr Void editor's avatar ' 
idure his posting this OutKast proteg 
video, plus seven consecutive comments, 
each CAPSier than the last and culminating 
in: "SHE DOESN'T ANSWER EMAILS -she's 
too busy pretending to be a robot and 
perfecting ways to undermine yr consensus 
rea//ty via the medium of Cab-Calloway- 
James-Brown dance paradoxes". Seethe 
'Many Moons' video and understand why 
he then invoked pathos.www.jmonae.com 




Desperado 

It seems only recently that grime has 
accepted its name. And not happily; 
Jammer's still sore on it not being Eski and 
you'd bet Dizzee sometime convinced 
himself it's really hip-hop. Enter centrestage, 
r ^~erado, alumnus of South Souldiers and 
unlikely resurrector of the inspired 
tion gryhme, last heard from the mouth 
zz in 2004. The mix, Gryhme Bangers, 
equally inspired return to core values, 
omical rhymes, minimal beats that bang 
, and evidence (in the 'Roll Girl' remix) 
electro isn't the only route to grime-pop 
na.www.myspace.com/desperado0001 



Finale 

Dude has nice verbals. Trustworthy, 
raw but not on no exaggerated thug 
fantasy trip. Been working in a motor 
factory in Detroit. Building cars or 
something. And then he had a dream. 
Or some other folks had a dream 
and he caught it like SARS, thinking 
he could escape from the grind into 
an opera of psychedelic splurges 
of colour with the main characters 
sketched raw and aproximate in 
fist sized lumps of charcoal. The 
resulting album, A Pipe Dream And 
A Promise wins as both THC on plastic 
and a show of promise for future 
Detroit head-hop. The pipe's optional, 
the dream compulsory. 
www.myspace.com/finale 



BoB 

Future generations will spend decades 
exploring the possibilities sketched 
out by Organized Noize and the 
Dungeon Family between 1 993 and 
2001 . Some will come from far and 
miss their points brilliantly, others 
will stay close to the source and gift new life to the 
original spirit. Like BoB. OK, it's partly a trick of the 
accent, for BoB sounds uncannily like Andre 3000 
when he speeds up and maxes out the disdain. 
But it's also a shared auterish zeal to fuse sharp 
humanity, populist spirit and endearingly ropey 
singing which lingers through the mixtapes 
and major label debut single Til Be In The Sky'. 
www.bobatl.com 

Jyager 

This is what happens 
when an 18-year-old 
bilingual Londoner (via 
Portugal) rejects grime 
to cram instead with 
Outkast'sAquemini, 
friends who do sex 
rhymes, and lashings 
of religious guilt. 
Earnest, and as intense 
as you'd expect from 
label YNR, also home 
to Jehst. Check the free 
mixtape for a document 
of potential. Check 
debut album Encrypted 
Scriptures next month 
for the fulfilment, his 
fevered barscoralled 
into compulsive 
testimony by Cee 
Why's cosy and 
corrosive beats. 
www.myspace.com/jyagermak 

The Mojo Fins 

Radio-friendly and well-adjusted, there's something 
of early REM about their long-choreographed 
jangle, than kfullyy'i/sf too shy to insinuate its 
anthemic tendencies anywhere unwanted. Gentle 
hearts thrum against delicate cartilage, soundtracky 
tracks sound hi-polish, somehow familiar; made 
from secret notes, maybe, www.themojofins.co.uk 

Talk Normal 

Like copping a face of black marble and pwned, 
red blood. Guitars like baby-goo, drums blind 
dancing and arrangements which shed their own 
skin. The Plan B home entertainment dept demand 
you fill the room with the duo's illbient heaviness 
like insecticide next time you're anti-socialising. 
www.myspace.com/talknormaltalknormal 



22 | plan b 





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BONNIE 'PRINCE' BILLY 



THE NEW ALBUM OUT 16th MARCH 



CD /LP /DIGITAL 



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history from below: funky 



KIG 



Words: Ben Mechen 

Geeneus photo: Shaun Bloodworth 

In which we dispatch a scene 
sleuth to investigate a rising 
tide of urban positivity 




The Rinse FM schedule, according to station 
figurehead Geeneus, is "nottaken lightly"; 
look at the PDF and it's a Tetris stack of two-hour 
blocks - packed tight, no gaps - gridding out 
the UK underground in the tangiest colours. The key 
gives grime a chromium blue, old skool garage a real 
springy green. Dubstep is a deep Happy Shopper 
orange. 'Funky house', 'funky', 'UK funky', or, as 
Rinse are calling it, 'house and funky' is coral pink. 

Pirates like Rinse are respirators, and they have 
been oxygenating the bass, beats and bleeps of 
British dance music for over20 years, rave through 
to jungle, garage through to grime to dubstep. 
Respiration allows life, movement, so in return, 
the bass, beats and bleeps have evolved and 
devolved, stretched inwards and outwards, stripped 
things back to nothing or piled it all in, re-emerging 
with particles re-arranged. So when Geeneus says 
that Rinse is "constantly changing," he's talking 
about the entire gaseous exchange that's always 
been at the heart of UK dance, airwaves and sounds 
existing for and because of each other. That means 
that whichever colour springs out first from the 
schedule, that's Rinse giving you the sound of now, 
the sound, says Geeneus again, of "the bottom 
underground", of "the darkest and dungiest 
clubs". It's Rinse giving you the roots of tomorrow. 

And in February 2009 there is a lot of coral pink. 

Funky, then, has grown up quickly. Two years ago, 
it barely existed as something in its own right, yet 
today it's flirting with national playlists and major 
labels. KIG's 'Heads, Shoulders, Knees And Toes' 
has gone viral, with approaching a million YouTube 
hits. Island just signed it for big money; it's released 

24 1 plan b 



later this month. So while it's true that f unky's 
pre-history is rich, distinguished, and pretty damn 
close to Jurassic - it begins with classic house music 
25 years old -you've got to remember that pre- 
histories have never been the same as a full fare. 
House is like chlorophyll in 4/4 time; it's made almost 
every shoot of dance music that has broken surface 
since green. But saying that funky began with house 
is like saying that jazz began with a field holler. 

Funky's actual history, then, is house's bones 
being twisted, being fitted up with new gear, its 
ribcage stuffed with tribal rhythms plundered from 
soca, the synths and shoebox symphonies of grime, 
and that low-end thickness UK dance always returns 
to. It's a history which producer Roska describes as 
"the UK putting our own spin on things." Robin 
Howells, who runs a funky and bassline night 
in Dalston called Wifey, meanwhile, calls it UK 
dance's usual "alchemy; taking American music and 
injecting a different attitude, maybe drug culture, 
our Caribbean heritage, and then using pirate radio 
and dubplate culture to grow and mutate it." 

And this history is short- two years, three at 
most- with developments relayed synapse-sharp; 
a new plate gets smashed on air or in the dance 
and within a week a dozen producers are taking 
it apart and tweaking the mechanics, bedroom DJs 
are ripping tracks from imeem streams and zipping 
them back up as mixes, new dances with new 
names are spreading through the capital, old dances 
with old names are getting themselves a funky 
room, and the biggest DJs are getting booked to 
play both on the same night. It's working across any 
networks it can - labels and distributors in the real 
world are going under by the week, so link-ups are 



being made through MySpace top friend lists and 
shout-outs on radio or iTunes; sound is getting out 
through VIP refixes emailed to top DJs, or through 
downloads from start-up distros like ukfunky.com. 

These are networks of necessity, unwieldy and 
uneven to start with, but jury-rigged into usefulness. 
Only a minority of artists, like Geeneus, can still get 
hard copies of their releases out to HMV. But for 
everyone else, say III Blu, a production duo whose 
track 'Frontline' with singer Princess has become a 
staple over the last month or two, " it's a grind to get 
the music out there. It's really still at the DIY stage 
right now. " They, like others, are starting up their 
own label, rather than waiting for anyone else. 

" If you were making music 20 years ago, " says 
Geeneus, "You'd have been thinking of the money 
at the end of it. But a kid these days will never have 
had any experience of making money from music. 
They've got no idea there's money in it. " They do it 
because they want to. Only seven years ago he was 
making hundred grand videos with proto-grime unit 
Pay As U Go Cartel. Now no one does that. "This is a 
holiday for me," he claims. As with the kids, funky is 
justtunesand no bullshit. 

With this in mind, how is that funky has 
managed to light such a rocket up things? A case in 
point; over the last year, Geeneus has been 
instrumental in bringing funky DJs into FWD, a club 
synonymous with dubstep. " People were like 'what 
are you playing house for? This is a dubstep rave'. 
Now they're after me for my playlist." Put simply, 
funky is switching up events like FWD because it 
makes you move. " Funky is that feel good music, 
that party-starter," say III Blu. "It's got the energy, 
the excitement. It puts the funk in everybody. " 



the void 




Kiss FM DJ Pioneer agrees; for him the vibe 
is "like garage all over again," that restless search 
for more ways to contort yourself to sound, that 
impulse to dress fresh and smile. It's brought 
females back to the rave - Geeneus reckons that 
at a funky night, eighty per cent of the crowd are 
ladies. Compare that to Sidewinder. And, the logic 
goes, where the girls lead, the boys will follow, and 
where the girls are, the boys will behave. Late last 
year, Boy Better Know had a chorus that went 
"we need some more girls in here/there's too many 
mans, too many many mans". Funky is beginning 
to seem like some kind of answer. 

Nights like Wifey have sprung up too, drawing 
a mixed crowd, students stepping with kids from 
what Geeneus calls the "deep ghetto" . Then there's 
the dozens of nights going on in Brixton, Bow, 
Streatham, Bedford. It's at these that Geeneus 
will "just go and stand in the corner. There'll be 
people smoking weed with their hoods up and they 
won't care. " But at all these events, wherever they 
are and whoever is there, the release is through 
dancing. Dark garage, grime, and dubstep all 
blackened things up, privileged introspection, 
tension, dread. Those aren't dancing feelings; 
you surrendered to something when you listened 
to them, but not to straight rhythm and propulsion, 
not to that connection to everybody else in the 
room, all of you with heartbeats anchored to 
the kick drum's thump. 

Funky, then, has the underground in one palm 
because with the other it's putting the veil on several 
years of head nodding rather than body shaking. 
But a problem seems to arise here, because grime 
and dubstep have been leading UK dance music 



for several years now, so any reaction against them, 
if funky really is that, must therefore be a battering 
administered with their own tools; as Geeneus 
points out, "grime kids are making funky now. 
And these are kids who didn't listen to any music 
before grime. " So there are occasional tensions. 
Institutions like the Circle crew have been making 
soulful British house for years, unbothered by 



Funky's history is 
house's bones being 
twisted 



anyone, and their take on things is closer to that of 
US stalwarts like Dennis Ferrer or MAW. Yet the 
'funky' tag has, unwittingly, swept them up too. 

Meanwhile, that new generation of producers 
saw in raw and densely percussive workouts like 
Apple's 'Mr Bean' all of grime's clatter and force, but 
laid over an infectious beat, and so it's unsurprising 
that they've ended up making something very 
different; listen to Lil Silva or a Marcus Nasty set to 
see why some bloggers have called funky 'grime-in- 
disguise',orwhyTim Westwood has been using 
Hard House Banton's 'Sirens' as a riddim on his 
1Xtra show. At times, neither camp seems that 
comfortable alongside the other, and there has 
been the odd spat; the house purists, for instance, 
have accused the new kids of presumption to 
a heritage they don't understand, of disowning that 



pre-history I mentioned. But thankfully, more and 
more, this stuff is looking like small change. 

Howells is philosophical on the implications; 
"even the polarisation that goes with funky is 
good... compare it to speed garage, bassline, 
dubstep; the ridicule they've all experienced at some 
point seems like an indicator of something good, 
and it drove things forward." Also, perhaps because 
funky is too young and unsure of itself to pronounce 
on orthodoxy, or even because, as Geeneus 
contends, "funky represents a community more 
than a sound," these tensions have not become 
open fissures. Both sides seem largely happy to 
share the same bills, slip into the same mixes, to let 
their successes reflect on each other. And holding 
things together are the majority who enjoy playing 
and making both styles, and splicing them together; 
Geeneus is one, and his labelling of the sound as 
"house and funky" seems a compromise agreeable 
to all, but there's also NG, MA1, Naughty, Crazy 
Cousinz, and, day by day, countless more. 

Funky is clearly healthy right now. As recently 
as last summer, most mixes featured the same tracks 
week on week. Simply not enough funky had been 
made yet. Demand was outgunning supply. 
But now. only the best tunes get second spins. 
Remix work for major R&B and house stars is 
flowing in, and A&Rs are circling. 2009 is shaping 
up nicely. But never underestimate just how fast that 
"bottom underground" goes. That's how we got 
here anyway, isn't it? Don't ever expect it to stop 
peeling new skins for itself. "We've got to keep 
it moving," concludes Geeneus. "Things change 
everyday. Funky is the same. I'll see you in a year's 
time and we'll be talking about something else." 



plan b 1 25 



the void 




jeremyjay 

Words: Alex Goffey 

Jeremy Jay just wasn't made for these times. 
His good bone structure and long, lanky 
figure call forth Robert Forster circa Send 
Me A Lullaby, while his hollowed surf guitar 
lines and supine American drawl could make 
any modern filly wish she was a wallflower 
at a Fifties dance. Like a doomed motorcycle 
rebel heading for a crash straight out of the 
Shangri-La'ssongbook, Jeremy Jay will break 
your heart -and maybe your mother's as well. 

"I don't mind being a teen idol," Jay 
says. He is in Paris, a city he calls home 
alongside his native Los Angeles. Soon, 
he'll make his way across almost every city 
in Europe before jumping over the Atlantic 
to play just about every bedroom and disco 
in America, fluttering hearts with songs 
from second LP, Slow Dance, out now on 
K Records. 

Last year's A Place Where We Could Go 
introduced his love for Buddy Holly and 
French NewWave, living in Hollywood 
and dreaming of the Left Bank. You can 
justtell that the only girls good enough 
for him would be Anna Karinaor Jean 
Seberg. It's lust in the movies all over. 

Still in love with classic sound and 
cinema, Slow Dance veers away from eternal 
summer towards shiny synthesisers in dank 
foreign discotheques. Produced by K's 
leader, Calvin Johnston ("He wears a lab 
coat when recording, which is so cool"), 
it's a record made for sly shuffling and 
furtive, flirtatious glances across a smoky 
den. With Italo disco and dubstep strong on 
the dancef loor, slow and steady seems to be 
the new shape-shifting. After all, working 
up a sweat just messes up your hair and 
wrecks your fringe, right? 

"[Slow dancing] is what's exciting to me 
now. The kick and the rim with no hat. The 
basssynth low. Slow Dance is Romance with 
a capital 'R'. How can anyone not like that?" 

Jay sure ain't slowing down himself. 
Notcontentwithanewalbum, he's also 
just released a 1 2-inch ('Love Everlasting') 
and will soon shoot a video for it at a 
Seventies 'Diskothek Strip Klub' in Cologne. 
Back in Angel Town, Jay hangs out at 
The Smell, and in Parisyou'llfindhimat 
discotheques like LeRegine. Best of all, catch 
him in a lounge room at the next house party 
in town, where he'll spike the punch and 
make you sway and swoon into the night. 

"Some house parties are really fun, but 
I guess it depends. When they start playing 
bingo you know its time to go." 

www.myspace.com/jeremyjay 




mitten 

Words: kicking_k 

"The Mitten name was because I'd write to 
a promoter saying 'I am a female singer-songwriter 
called Mitten. Give me a gig.' They would naturally 
put me on with other cutesy comfy bands and 
I would void their audience completely by the 
time I finished. I love to watch people walk away." 

You have 4: 13 to join them. MySpace. 
'Pumkinpeanutbutternutsquash'. Go. Bass fuzz like 
oscillating current, like emphysema. "Well, you're 
spewed out of the womb, bloody and alone/Let's 
start as we mean to go on, " she drawls, mannered, 
affected, unimpressed, ghost coos and growls 
multi-tracked around. But what seems set to settle 
into the carefully-staged eerieness of Fairie 



'One can't take one's 
misery too seriously' 



Victoriana sparks into: "Back when Kylie was still 
selling her arse instead of her. . . cancer", and that 
splash of nastiness as soon aside-lined by a tongue/ 
cheek sulk about her "bicycle no one ever steals/ 
I'm starting to take it personally". 

"I was rotting away in a bedsit, ripping my hair 
out, and someone worried about me left a little 
four-track contraption and some instruments and 
told me to get well - or at least productive. " 

"A week later I had a gig. At the end of that, 
one half of a record company came up, said it 
was one of the best gigs he had ever been to. 
They come back to me once a year- via email - 
saying they want to release an album or whatever. 
And then disappear. Probably when they sober 
up the next morning. " Instead, three years on, 
she's on her seventh self-released CD-R, Success 



In The Grocery Business "One label wanted to do 
a double album. Apparently. There's about 1 00 
songs to choose from. All much of a muchness, 
just progressively more aggressive with each 
passing year..." 

"I don't write music. I often can't play the stuff 
I have recorded again because I turn on the four- 
track when I'm fired up. And have no idea what 
I'm doing. So they are very locked into that 
exact moment." 

'Pumkinpeanutbutternutsquash' crawls on 
through an unflinching depiction of a "pedestrian 
party" where she's trapped between a "maggot- 
faced cleric" and "cheese and margarine 
sandwiches", spraining high notes as the backing 
vocal is severed by a phone ring with cradle- 
clattering tantrum (" Every time I'm RECORDING ! "). 

Instrumental^, the record is crowded with what 
Mitten describes as " . . .broken drums distorted with 
old, malfunctioning microphones, harmoniums, 
electric keyboards and guitars if they are a bit 
handicapped, typewriter fed through an amp 
for percussion, etc etc. I often record with the 
window open inordertogettherainorthe 
screaming midgets outside, or the heavy goods 
vehicles destroying my gentler feminine wailing 
songs. One can't take one's misery too seriously. 
I like to run a truck through it. " 

The press write yr music comes from 'the edge of 
madness'... "It sells well. Fragility of mind and heart. 
Women use it as much as men to compartmentalise 
straying from the musical norm." But: "I got taken 
off a radio playlist on the back of my unfriendliness. 
They really want you to be co-conspirator in the 
compartmentalisation - and abuse their powers if 
you don't play coy and mad and cute and grateful. " 

The song's ending. "Is this my life? 'Cause if it is, 
I don 't want it..." It's like the lights have gone up 
in the cinema and everyone is gnawed existentially 
clean. Except she hasn't finished, adding the most 
sarcastic "...baby"\v\ recording history. 

Greatest hits please. 

www.myspace.com/51330320 



26 1 plan b 




T>W 



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Words: Adam Anonymous, Hayley Avron, Daniel Barrow, Petra Davis, 
Noel Gardner, Thorn Gibbs,Tom Howard, kicking_k, Neil Kulkarni, 
Frances Morgan, Doug Mosurock, Louis Pattison, Ned Raggett, 
Joe Shooman, Joseph Stannard, Lauren Strain 

Illustration: Sarah Llppett 



Last Christmas, Zavvi, the music 
and DVD retailer that replaced 
the Virgin Megastore on the 
nation's high streets, went into 
administration. With only HMV 
still left to fight the good fight, 
is this the beginning of the end 
for the nation's stack-'em-high CD 
sellers, or just a temporary blip on 
the retail landscape - and if it is 
the end, what will replace them? 
The supermarkets will replace CD/DVD/ 
merch/games-stores precisely because 
record shops decided to stop being/looking/ 
feeling like record shops and start being/ 
looking/feeling like supermarkets. Simply 
not special places anymore. . . (NK) 

I can't bring myself to turn a hair, 
I'm afraid. Nor do I like the idea of scrabbling 
about in the rubble for goodies - it makes 
me feel guilty and weird, like I've been 
neglectful and now all the records are 
doomed. Record shopping is for special 
occasions, for presents, for hunger for the 
perfect fit, and it happens in second-hand 
or independent shops. (PD) 

Record stores thrive when they build 
a connection with their customers, and a 
reputation in music communities as a place 
that is worth patronising. There needs to 
be some manner of curatorial presence at 
work, because the old model of chain store 
stocking everything on a major is clearly 
dead as a doornail. My friends who work 
at Revolver, one of the largest and most 



reputable independent distros in the 
USA, say that the CD is far from dead. 
I'll believe them. (DM) 

I think smaller record shops will succeed 
by specialising in theirfield, competing less 
with the surrounding neighbourhood and 
building a reputation as being the best at 
what they do in a national or global sense: 
inthewaythatVolcanicTonguehas 
become synonymous with the NewWeird 
America, Aquarius Records does outsider/ 
underground black metal, Sounds Of The 
Universe corners the quality reissue market, 
and so on... (LP) 

The idea of buying an album is already 
slightly laughable to most casual music fans 
my own age.To my 1 7 year-old cousin, who 
likes Late Of The Pier and The Twang, the 
concept is completely perverse. I think there 
could be an attempt at music 'lifestyle' shops 
next, offering physical and digital music, web 
access and 'hangout space' under one roof. 
(TG) 

HMV's musical instrument section, 
'Hooters' (hur hur) has been really successful 
apparently. People with non-'specialist' taste 
who still want to buy actual CDs can do so in 
supermarkets. (NG) 

Looking back on my teenage visits, 
getting patronised by grumpy 30-something 
blokes on the counter, I would say that the 
social potential of the record shop is a bit 
overrated and the internet's probably made 
underground music as a whole much more 
approachable for young people. (FM) 



niffi 






i 



JKL4L. 




Certain lifestyle/clothing shops are 
branching out into faux record stores, 
forcedly associating themselves with certain 
types of music. It's like they're saying that, 
if you drink that coffee, or if you wear those 
clothes, then you're immediately that specific 
kind of person that likes No Age or Rod 
Stewart. And that kind of thing makes 
me really ill. (LS) 

I don't really like any shops, record shops 
included. Maybe it's because I was brought 
up in the countryside. (TH) 

Tell us about yr first record shop, 
and yr formative experiences/ 
purchases there? An entry into a 
whole new world...? 

My first thirst for music was sparked in Tower 
Records; that Scandinavian band Mew were 
playing an instore in Tower Records when 
I was about 1 2 - I'd just wandered in there 
with mum and dad, heard this noise from 
below, went down the escalators and 
scuttled around until I found a box I could 
stand on to watch on my tiptoes. I just 
remember being completely awed, like, 
"What. . . is. . .THIS? ! " At the time I had 
no idea who the band were or anything, 
I ran over to a shop assistant to ask. (LS) 

ThatwouldbeinCobin Bangor, which 
at the time was a three-level piece of genius: 
vinyl downstairs, tapes and vinyl and posters 
in the middle floor then right up at the top 
badges and patches. I bought a Status Quo 
patch and a Motorhead badge. It was full 
of improbably cool-looking straggle-haired 
drawlers dressed in leather, denim, ripped 
things and had a smell of some kind of 
smoky magic.Things like that stick with you 
and chipped away at me in terms of what 
it was possible to do with your life. (JSh) 

In 1 993 when I lived in Hull I was 
working nights in a factory and to compound 
my misery, one morning when I got back 



home after a long night making 'Beverly Hills 
90210:TheAII Over Body Spray' someone 
had broken into my house and stolen about 
200 of my favourite albums. A few weeks 
later most of them turned up in a second 
hand record shop where they had been given 
their own new category: Mad Bastards. (JD) 

I was a poor student and hadn't been 
in for a while, but a few months earlier 
I'd asked Jerry (of Jerry's) if he ever saw 
any Sun Ra vinyl. "Naw," he said (picture 
a guy who looks and sounds like Walterfrom 
The Big Lebowskl). " But I'll let you know 
if anything comes my way." So I walk into 
the store on New Year's Eve and he says 
"Hey Doug, where ya been? I had all these 
recordssitting asideforyou", and produces 
a stack of seven Sun Ra LPs. One was 
autographed. I'm still stunned by this guy's 
generosity, and make it a point to visit several 
times a year. I never leave without about 
40 to 50 LPs and singles, and he's got 
a customer in me for life, so it all works out. 
Interestingly enough, after I scored all that, 
I got dumped at midnight, was fired from my 
job, and my dog died. The universe must have 
righted itself. (DM) 

Indie record shops are kind of 
antechambers, where obsessions are 
encouraged (and, urn, 'monetised'). 
You see the same people in them as 
you do at the nichier nights or shows - 
it always felt like a secret society organised 
around ART. (k_k) 

My first was a second-hand concern 
in Harrow called Jamming With Edward. 
It was run by a rocker dude with a 
resplendent mane of long, greying hair 
and piercing blue eyes. I think I had a bit of 
a displaced dad crush on him. He was a total 
pussycat, and I'd go in there and talk bollocks 
about the resurgence of downtuned guitars 
in grunge and suchlike. I'll never forget it. 
I hope he's still there. (JSt) 



28 1 plan b 




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caught between worlds 



Words: Noel Gardner 
Photography: Courtney Brooke Hall 



Philadelphia's Stinking Lizaveta festoon doom's blackened 
heart with jazz licks and psychedelic wah-wah. They're not cool # 
but they do rule 



When DIY soothsayers and f lameburners of various 
undergrounds and basic frickin' punk rockers have 
their subculture ganked by slick marketing men, 
they get angry. As they should. Thing is, though: 
the punks only get their iconography robbed cos 
they're so damn good at creating it. How valuable 
would something as impactful as the Black Flag 
bars or Crass' logo and graphics be to a company 
turning over billions per annum? I don't know 
either, dude, but this talk makes me ill and what 
the hell does it have to do with Stinking Lizaveta? 
Stinking Lizaveta have something regarded by 
The Man as equally valuable: the powerful first 
impression. They're a trio -two brothers, Yanni 
and Alexi Papadopoulous, on guitar and upright 
bass, and Yanni's one-time girlfriend Cheshire 
Agusta on drums - who have released six albums 



brutish proto-metalisms of Jimmy Page and Angus 
Young where so many 'classic rock' aficionados 
fail. The album's centre contains uncategorisably 
minimalist rock, a title track that starts off recalling 
the great and underrated Boston band Karate and 
ends up sounding like Queen, and judicious use of a 
theremin - a suggestion of producer Sanford Parker, 
member of Minsk and Buried At Sea and something 
of an uberproducer in underground metal. Back on 
the psychedelic track, meanwhile: Yanni agrees. This 
is partly a result of his recent listening habits, but the 
crypto-Middle Eastern feel that permeates a number 
of the album's ten songs is something that he has 
arrived at via experimenting with different modes 
and scales on the guitar. 

"I like exploring non-diatonic modes. If you're 
using a diatonic scale like for example A-Minor, or 



'We're not trying to compete in the 
marketplace -just being artists is 
our goal' 



of jazz-touched instrumental doom rock in 1 5 years 
and escaped their Philadelphia homestead for 
frequent tours to pretty much everywhere. Their 
ability to carry people from the point of virtual 
or complete non-recognition to jabberjawed riff- 
love in the space of 40 minutes or so is seriously 
unsurpassable. Each of the five Stinking Lizaveta 
shows I've watched have been the same. Saatchi 
And Saatchi and OgilvyAnd Mather and douches 
like them charge MILLIONS for a fraction (expressed 
as a percentage) of our heroes' hit rate. Meanwhile, 
here is Yanni saying, "People always tell us we're 
hard to categorise. That's because we're in the SST 
model of a band. That just means we're folks trying 
to make rock music, not trying to compete in the 
marketplace -just being artists is our goal. " 

The above stance gives only the slimmest of 
suggestions as to why Stinking Lizaveta (named 
after a character in The Brothers Karamasov, 
Dostoevsky's final novel) are special, unique 
and totemic. Their riffs are imposingly plump 
and presented with a toasty analogue warmth, 
but there's nothing macho or boorish about this 
reading of metal. Their structures are complex, 
snakelike, scrunching up the twists of musical DNA 
every time you think they're getting content with 
a repetitive pattern - but they're not a math-rock 
band, as much as people sprint to staple that to any 
rock band without vocals. " Math-rock is a bit too 
claustrophobic for my tastes, " Yanni ventures; for 
what it's worth he's mainly referring to the term 
itself here, and the implications of scholarly revision. 
"I'm addicted to musical freedom. When we first 
started this band we thought we would have a 
singer in a matter of months, and just kept playing 
gigs figuring that was the best way to get someone's 
attention. Well, here we are 1 5 years later. 

"We only have one track with vocals, 'War Of 
The Worlds', on our third album. Afriend named 
Chip, who is schizophrenic, just started chanting the 
lyrics. I asked him if we could use them on the album 
and he agreed. Now he calls me up threatening my 
life and legal action for stealing his song. " 

A tangent to this part of our chat (which, 
incidentally, Yanni introduces by informing me 
of his state of nudity; to be fair, it is 1 0am on 
a Sunday at his end) comes with a suggestion that 
the new album Sacrifice And Bliss is Lizaveta's most 
psychedelic venture yet. Coming in at a peachy 
40 minutes -their last two, splendid as they were, 
had gilded the lily somewhat at around an hour 
each - all is held together by wah pedals stomped 
through floorboards and central riffs that nail the 



ABCDEFG -just changing one note, like G to G sharp, 
you get new chords, a different relationship between 
the notes, and some would say an 'exotic' sound. " 

Yanni also plays guitar in another band, 
The Gypsy Hands Tribal Bellydance Troupe, who 
soundtrack bellydance performances. "We've 
played [Tennessee festival] Bonarooforthe past 
five years. There aren't any songs, we just bliss out 
three hours a day while the dancers juggle fireballs 
and blow flames. After four days, I've usually forged 
a few good riffs for Stinking Lizaveta." 

And there's another one for the are/aren't axis. 
These three are respectively aged between their 
late thirties and late forties and have hair coming 
out of their scalp at more angles than a professional 
snooker player considers in a lifetime. ..and 
Yanni generally wears a waistcoat onstage. 



Stinking Lizaveta don't really seem to care much 
for that doom aesthetic crystallised, as it were, by 
Wino - former Saint Vitus/The Obsessed f rontman 
and onetime Lizaveta labelmate and touring partner 
with Spirit Caravan. (Yanni: "When you see people 
like him play, you get a certain musical training you 
never lose. Wino is into books of fringe histories and 
mysticism; he also loves all kinds of music, from 
John Coltranetothe Damned. ")They AREN'T, 
pump up the scare quotes, "cool " . They ARE, 
however, repping for the quasi-outlaw culture 
espoused in underworld metal by virtue of being 
answerable only to their own whims and changing 
for no-one. Maybe this has been made easier by 
slipping through the genre cracks, but given that 
this has made it harder for them to fit into any scene 
of convenience, it all evens out. 

To this end, it makes sense that Yanni talks 
in glowing terms about the occasions when they 
have stuck their heads above the DIY parapet. 
In 2006, Lizaveta toured the UK in support to Clutch 
and Corrosion Of Conformity - " our biggest tour 
to date, with laminates and catering. It was a 
great experience because there were people at the 
shows. . . in the underground world, you never know 
if you're going to be playing to a hundred people 
or ten." They've also been touring with The Sword, 
who are pretty much the current gold standard for 
hipster/poser/use-other-words-please stoner jams. 
For one thing, this meant that Yanni and band got 
to watch Metallica's Phi My date backstage, thanks 
to Lars Ulrich handpicking The Sword to open 
their US shows. For another, Yanni grew up in 
Washington DC circa hardcore's era of itchy 
mutation - his first ever show was Minor Threat, 
and he was there, James Murphy-style, when Rites 
Of Spring started getting called emo in '85. He has 
credentials, and the ability to spot them in others. 

"[Sword drummer] TrivettWingo skipped his 
high school graduation to go see Man Is The Bastard 
play to probably 30 people. So before any 'real 
metalhead' goes talking smack about them, they 
should ask themselves if they were at that show. " 

Let's face it, you weren't there. 




plan b 1 31 



Ask anyone involved what Wham City means, 
and almost all of them get excited. Emails 
surge with exclamation marks and sentences 
that cause hyperventilation if you read them 
out loud. Wham City is magickal, liberating, 
transformative. There are lots of quotes like: 
"It changed my life" and "It saved my life." 

This Baltimore collective of artists and 
musicians is anarchic: everyone is able to 
perform, and create, and play whatever 
weirdness they can conjure. Wham City has 
no rules, no leaders, and anything is possible. 
All this may be true. But like it or not, the 
reason everyone's paying attention right now, 
across the world, at house parties and through 
blogsand in articles like this one -isn't just the 
collective. It's that grinning, slightly bearded 
guy in Sally Jessy Raphael glasses who plays 
laptop sets in the middle of warehouse dance 
floors, calling out ridiculous dance instructions 
that audiences, everywhere, follow with 
preschoolers' uninhibited glee. It's Dan Deacon. 

Dan Deacon's a leader who won't admit to 
being one- he squirms away from the thought. 
He keeps asking "Do you know what I mean?" 
and saying "I'msuchanassholenerd!" But he 

32 | plan b 



pixel 

par* e 



isn't - if anything, he may be some kind of 
freakazoid savant, he's so good at instantly 
figuring out the potential of any given 
situation, and understanding how other 
people might bethinking about it. Don't 
get me wrong: he's no messiah. But he's one 
hell of a community organiser. He works with 
people's strengths and finds opportunities in 
all limitations. He brings everyone together. 
And then things go exponential. 

This is kind of what happened with Dan 
Deacon, Wham City, and the Baltimore music 
scene over the past few years. 

build voice 

This whole story starts a few years before the 
release of Spiderman Of The Rings, Deacon's 
2007 pixellated, raucous, compulsive dayglo 
lightshowstompof an album. It might start in 
Purchase College, in upstate New York, in the 
early years of this century, where Deacon and 
friends (Wham City stalwarts Adam Endres, 
Dina Kelberman, Josh Kelberman, Abra Aducci, 
Connor Kizer and Peter O'Connell, among 
others) studied art and music and composition. 
The Wham City name came from Endres' half- 



joke suggestion for a dorm-naming contest at 
Purchase. After graduation, they considered 
moving to Pittsburgh or Brooklyn, but 
Baltimore won out, partly because there was 
already a lot of music and art and weird stuff 
going on, and partly because it was cheap. 

You could argue, too, that the Wham City 
origin myth may depend on the scattershot 
geography of Baltimore itself, patchworked 
with decaying buildings, band houses and 
spaces like the Copycat building, a multistorey 
warehouse f ul I of studios that housed artists 
and musicians. Wham City set up there around 
2004, and the Copycat was home and show 
space and nerve centre of the group until 2006. 

But let's go back to Spiderman. . . , because 
it's a total case study of how Deacon thinks, 
and it's the point when everything got huge. 

Spiderman Of The Rings, like almost every 
Wham City project, is an exercise in making 
constraints useful. Spiderman Of The Rings 
sounds as brash and chunky as it does because 
when he wrote it, Deacon was considering 
the places he'd be performing it. "The main 
problem is that when I was going to play, all the 
places had horrible PAs, or whatever bass amps, 



: 




eacon isn 



over starburst electronics and dancing blocks of colour (and if anyone gets inspired along the way # 
all the better). Take the square-wave assault course of new album Bromst and learn how a united 
front of artists, pioneers, and activists are dreaming the city of Baltimore towards a day-glo future 



Words: Emily Bick 
Photography: Justin Hollar 



keyboard amps you could string together." 
So he designed a record that would sound even 
better with the added scuzz and rattle of the 
world's worst club soundsystems. "I started 
experimenting with different sounds, with the 
PA at Wham City, which is probably the worst 
PA anyone could have, and the more delicate 
the sounds were, the more they got lost, so 
I worked the distortion into the songs, kept 
the wave forms as simple as possible." He also 
had a powerbook he describes as "completely 
fucked. ..amps had fallen on it, the screen was 
attached with duct tape". Its memory was full, 
so instead of finding new samples, he cut up 
old Beach Boys samples into unrecognisable 
segments, and built on those sounds and 
whatever else he already had to create 
Spiderman. "Kind of like making dinner with 
whatever's in the cupboard," he explains. 

What surprised me is that Deacon's new 
album, Bromst, was written at the same time 
as Spiderman. Bromst is more mature, and 
cinematic - its final song, 'Get Older', sounds 
likethe triumphal chords surging overthe 
end credits of a complicated RPG video game. 
Bromst is full of drones, from the haunting 



Appalachian death-rattle vocal on 'Wet Wings' 
(sampled from a thrifted folk tape given to 
him by an ex-girlfriend) to Steve Reich marimba 
scales. It's delicate and precise, the kind of 
record that you can lie down and listen to with 
your eyes closed time and time again, and 
different layers will make themselves heard. 
"The whole point of Spiderman was to get 



as sheet music, which he plans to give away 
for free. When he tours Bromst and can't bring 
his 1 5-strong ensemble along, he hopes 
to audition local musicians to play with him. 

But Dan Deacon has always favoured 
performances with a communal element. 
Wham City is famous for its US-crossing Round 
Robin tour, where several bands take turns 



'I'm hopeful for that consciousness 
shift, and you start that on a base 
level. You start with the community' 



people dancing by the end of the set. With 
Bromstthat started to change a bit. I wanted 
it to have the same peaks of intensity, but more 
variety. Last time it was mayhem. Now I want it 
to be a little more sombre, a little more subtle." 

Touring Bromst might not be a full on 
dance party, but Deacon has plans for audience 
participation. He's working on transcribin 



playing songs. "From a band's perspective, 
it's great. Because then there's no opener or 
no closer, no one hasto play to an audience 
that's just milling in or just being warmed 
up, and no one gets to play when everyone 
is all comfortable, everyone gets to play at all 
of those times. So we're all on the same base 
, audience, performer, everybody." 



plan b 1 33 




'The most important thing is sincerity. With regards to the 
bands that I like, they're doing it because if they didn't do 
it, it would drive them crazy' 



The second Round Robin tour took place before 
the release of Spiderman. " It was just five Wham 
City bands, eight people. Me, Santa Dads, Blood 
Baby, Video Hippos, and Butt Stomach. It was a lot 
of fun, but we all had pneumonia, bronchitis, one 
of us broke a rib, the van we were in didn't have 
any seats. That kind of put a damper on my Round 
Robin brain for a while. It was fun but stressful. 
Then my record came out a few months later. 
Tours became more intense, shows became more 
constant, and it was harder to do group projects. 

"But it had always been in the back of my mind 
that I wanted to do it again. Now there's been three 
total tours and the last one that happened, that 
was 60 people, by far the largest, and the most 
fun I've had in my life. 

" It was a cross section of what's going on 
in Baltimore right now. It's not just Wham City, 
there's all this stuff going on on the west side. . . 
like Tarantula Hill, Floristree, a lot of stuff going on. 
There's not just one local scene or local aesthetic. 
A lot of people didn't know each other more than 
a hello and a handshake before, and now they're 
close friends, and the city seems smaller and more 
community based. A lot of the stuff we were doing 
we were doing on the fly. How do we house 60 
people? How do we feed 60 people dinner? It was 
completely DIY, and it was awesome to see how 
many people emerged to say, 'I will do this'. . .and 
there was no complaining about it." 

I tell him he's a one-man tourist board. 

He laughs. "Well, I am trying to get a grant from 
the city, because I think it brings a lot of attention 
to Baltimore. Hopefully we can do it with about 
one per cent more comfort next time. " 



fountain flows gold 

Then there's been Whartscape- the Wham City 
music festival, which debuted in 2006. "We wanted 
to put on a Baltimore music festival with bands we 
liked. We were trying to figure out the best time to 
do it because all our shows were completely illegal 
and we were like, ' How the hell are we going to 
get away with 12 hours of music? For two days 
in a row, without the cops coming, without getting 
busted. So the city has this festival called Artscape. 
Well, we thought the cops would all be at Artscape 
making sure that the people from the suburbs don't 
get mugged. . .there'll be so much going on that 
everyone'll be over there. And if we call it something 
that sounds like Artscape, people will think it's a part 
of it. So we called it Whartscape. And it worked ! 

"Then the second year we wanted to push it 
a little further, so we found a vacant alley and asked 
all the buildings around if we could run extension 
cords from their buildings. They were all, like, 'Yeah, 
but don't get caught, and if you do we don't know 
who you are.' We hung up this huge banner to be 
as obvious about it as possible, so that if the cops did 
come, we could be like 'We're part of Artscape' ! " 

That year, Pitchfork and international press were 
all over Whartscape. Huge crowds were expected. 
"So we decided to tell the city about it, and [the 
council] were like, we know, we're also on the 
internet. They gave us a thousand dollars for a grant 
to build the stages and pay for electricity. It was 
really exciting, we expanded it to four days of 
shows, Matmosand Negativland headlined...! feel 
like we included a lot more of Baltimore, and that's 
been the goal every year, taking baby steps into 
including as many people as we can." 



" Last year's Whartscape was the biggest yet, 
and we learned a lot from that. We don't want it to 
grow any larger. We want to keep it the exact same 
size. We literally have no backstage area, no green 
room - there's no hierarchy between performer and 
audience. Once I was backstage with Bradford from 
Deerhunter, and some guy from, I won't even say 
what band it was, he was like, Yuck, I don't want 
to be out there with all those people!' and I'm like, 
Why are you even playing here? All those people 
are the fans, they're out there to see us ! It was truly 
disheartening. We try to make Whartscape artist- 
friendly and audience-friendly, an even plane." 

Everyone, famous or not, gets paid for playing 
at Whartscape. There's no corporate sponsorship, 
no profit. I'm as charmed by this egalitarianism as 
by Deacon's ability to find the best qualities in his 
collaborators, and work with them. I won't call him 
a networker because this seems both business- 
speak smarmy and inappropriately self-serving, 
about using connections for personal gain. 
But Deacon and Wham City really seem to be built 
around friends supporting each other, and shows 
where audiences and performers are symbiotic. 

At his shows, people seem to snap into ecstatic 
fits of flailing grinning sweat that last through the 
entire set. Break circles form; people cluster around 
Deacon and his mass of fluorescent cables and 
wires; they respond to his calls to dance, and they 
form square-dance tunnels of people for couples 
to run through. Joining in can be powerful. But 
what about people who go to a Dan Deacon show 
not to participate, but to blot themselves out? 

"I never really thought about it until midway 
through the Spiderman Of The Rings tour, but I was 




#, 



^hb 



like, all these people look like they're having 
fun, but I don't know if they're getting it. With 
Bromst, I'd like to say that the record is more like 
a celebration than like a party. A party is getting 
out there to have fun, which is cool, but I also think 
a celebration has a connotation of reflecting on 
an accomplishment. You know what I mean? 
I want people to think, well, why am I celebrating? 
Am I doing it because I want to forget about the 
problems in my life? Oram I excited about what I'm 
doing? Am I going to these things because I have 
no purpose and I live vicariously through people 
who have a vision? Or I have a vision and I'm about 
being associated with others who have a vision. 

" It's really difficult to instill those ideas without 
sounding like a teacher. And I don't want to sound 
like a teacher, I don't want to be a guide, I get 
referred to as a cult leader, as a pied piper, and that's 
the last thing that I want. Being someone else who 
doesn't respond well to people telling them what 
to do, I just want to help people find their own path, 
their own reasons to feel excited and fulfilled, and 
that's sort of the point with Wham City. " 

As an example, he tells me about Ed Schrader, 
an old friend who transformed himself into a talk 
show host with a record out. " He was living in 
upstate New York, and he didn't really have focus. 
He was making music, but he never felt like he was 
good enough to play in front of people. Then he 
came down to Baltimore for a weekend, and it 
changed his life. A while ago, for, his 30th birthday, 
some of us were watching the Greatest Hits of The 
Ed Schrader Show like, wow, he's really got it." 

Later via an email, Ed Schrader agrees: "Wham 
City marks the point in my life where I went from 



'There's not just one local 
scene or local aesthetic' 




being a weird guy muttering to himself on a tape 
recorder in alleys, to a weird guy muttering to 
himself on a tape recorder in alleys and playing 
it for a bunch of other weird people who actually 
wanted to hear it. That type of support really 
promotes a good synergy with artists. I wish 
everyone could experience it. It has saved my life. " 

But for every Ed Schrader who takes some of 
the Wham City spirit and goes on to live his dreams, 
what about the countless people who don't live 
their dreams, who despair in shitty jobs and can't 
produce their own art or music? 

"It's all about confidence," Deacon counters. 
"And anyone can do it, but you've got to make sure 
that you're not there to get fucked, or get wasted, 
just find someone to screw, or something like that. 
A lot of dance culture is about getting lost, and 
being like whatever, I worked all day at some shitty 
office job that I hate, and I'm going to go out and 
have a good time. That can be therapy for someone, 
but I don't think it'd the proper therapy. Do you 
know what I mean? That's a good way to realise that 
you hate your office job. But you shouldn't- it's not 
like, I hate the relationship that I'm in, so I'll cheat on 
my wife. You know what I mean? It's not like that. 

"The most important thing is sincerity. I never 
really thought of it in terms of an audience before, 
but regards to the bands that I like, if they're not 
doing it because if they didn't do it, it would drive 
them crazy. ..if you don'twantyouraudienceto 
be insincere either, to be going to a show just to 
be seen, or because they heard it was going to be 
popular. You can't tell your audience how to enjoy 
your music or what to take away from it, but you 
can hope. When it's 20 people, you can tell that 



connection, but when it's 20,000 I don't know how 
much of an impact you can actually have. I like an 
audience that's coherent. I like getting drunk, and 
I've been drunk at shows so I can see where they're 
coming from [laughs] but when you're in a room 
with two thousand drunk people, it gets difficult. 

"I'd rather play four 500 person shows than 
one 2000 person show, and I'd rather those be half 
empty, so there's room to breathe. The comfort level 
is important." 

I want to believe in Dan Deacon's vision so much 
that I suspect it must be too good to be possible. 
But how long can Wham City last? Deacon tells 
me that Wham City has no rules or manifestoes. 
There's constant debate about whether to 
incorporate and become eligible for more arts 
funding, or keep things informal. When we first 
spoke in January, there had been no official Wham 
City meeting yet this year, partly because it was 
hard to find a space that was big and safe enough. 
Some people in Wham City have babies now, and 
they want a space where they could breastfeed. 
This may now have been resolved; Wham City 
seems to thrive on solving these kind of problems. 

But then there's the almost inevitable trajectory 
that all scenes pass through: It's like any scene that's 
flooded with publicity gets battered by the rebound 
wave of gentrification. I hope the city council that 
helped pay for Whartscape had noble motives, 
but they could well have been taking cues from 
business books like Richard Florida's Cities And 
The Creative Class, which argue that it's great to 
nurture an art scene in a city, because that'll make 
it appeal to a professional 'creative class', who will 
swoop in with lots of cash and buy all the affordable 

plan b 1 35 







places to live. Baltimore's still a city with a lot 
of crime and no real centre to gentrify. Recession 
and fear may contain this; it's hard to say. 

"I've never thought about it except as 
pockets, of where people live", says Deacon. 
"And there's horrible crime throughout the city 
so there're very few hospitable neighbourhoods 
that people live in, or that you ever need to 
go to because there's no destination within 
that neighbourhood, So I guess one thing 
people talk about is how do we make the 
city more connected? There's horrible public 
transportation, it's probably one of the most 
segregated cities in America, you can't walk 
from this part to that part without fear of getting 
mugged or worse, it's not a very bike-friendly 
city, most of us don't have cars or even drivers' 
licenses so how are we going to do this? But we 
move in baby steps, and if we think about a city, 
if in 10 years we feel a lot smaller and more 
connected, it would be very successful." 

Ed Schrader puts it more succinctly. " I would 
like people to know that Baltimore is not as scary 
as one might believe. It is a magical place where 
people actually give a crap. I'd take it over New 
York any day of the week. It is a city that finds 
grace within the rusty planks of its vague 
components." 

And again, it seems like here is a ruined place 
where people can start to dream among the 
debris, and with enough imagination, they can 
build. In the future, Deacon would like to see 
Wham City build even more bridges and become 
more of a community centre. He'd like to see 
lectures, classes, kids' activities, a place for 
people from the neighbourhood to stop by. 

Still, Deacon's worried about the future, 
and not just in Baltimore. He tells me about 
Monsanto and patents on the food supply, 
about secret prisons being built, energy supplies 
running out, climate change, corporate media - 
it's enough to paralyse most people into a 'we're 
all doomed and no one can do anything' cycle 
of despair and inaction. But then we talk about 
201 2, and the end of the Mayan calendar. 
"A lot of us are obsessed with 201 2, the idea 
of that paradigm shift. I do believe we're on 
this ever-narrowing precipice where at one 
side there's an age of enlightenment unlike any 
other, where a collective consciousness gets 
up between individuals and large groups, 
and materials, possessions and the earth, where 
everything feels very connected, and there's 
no advantage being taken of anyone, or it could 
go the exact opposite way and we return to 
an age of kings, like a massive dark age with 
huge amounts of suffering. 

"I'm hopeful for that consciousness shift, 
and you start that on a base level. You start 
with the community. You start that with 
whoever you can connect with, and in Baltimore 
we try to connect in as many ways as possible. " 



baltimore's native strain of weirdness isn't downy, it's psychotic 

Interview: Emily Bick 
Photography: Zach Klein 

Exploring Baltimore with hometown boy Rjyan Kidwell, formerly laptop 
jockey Cex, now of husband-wife duo Sandcats 



You lived in Baltimore for a long time before moving 
to San Francisco, and were really involved in the local 
music scene and wrote for the City Paper. What made 
you decide to leave? 

"I left Baltimore three days after Christmas 2002 and 
came back at the end of 2003. 1 left because touring makes 
you insane. I've written two or three albums that are pretty 
much exclusively about this, about the weird ways it distorts 
your perspective and how there's almost no books you can 
read about it, nowhere to turn for even the teensiest bit 
of assurance, like, 'Dude, everybody goes nuts on tour.'" 

You have said that one reason you came back 
to Baltimore is that you saw how the US government 
left New Orleans to rot after Katrina, and you 
wouldn't be surprised if it left Baltimore the same 
way, so you wanted to live there before that 
happened. Could you explain a bit more? 

"Baltimore is grim. There are no good jobs here, and 
unless you stay in a very narrow strip of town in the centre of 
the city you're constantly confronted with pretty bleak images 
of segregation, poverty, and decay. Huge swathes of the city 
seem like they've been completely written off by the ruling 
class. All this in the largest city in the richest state in the US. 

"So I have no faith that, if this place were in peril, 
anybody with power would take much interest. Mainly 
though, my point is that up until Katrina, I had never 
considered the idea that a city as beautiful and historic 
as New Orleans would be abandoned in such a dire hour. 
I love Baltimore. I feel a real sense of belonging here. Edgar 
Allan Poe, HL Mencken, John Waters, Daniel Higgs, Tupac 
Shakur, Sylvia Beach, Frederick Douglass, Ben Carson, Philip 
Glass, Upton Sinclair: fuck yeah, that's my crew." 

What would you say makes Baltimore so special? 

"I think Baltimore is the ideal place to make art because 
glamour cannot thrive here.That's changed a little bit over 



'Most people are too concerned 
with getting their own shit 
together to waste time 
blowing smoke up your ass' 




the last five years, I think, but it's still basically true: you 
can't come here and impress people by resembling 
something that's already famous, or by connecting yourself 
with something successful. Even the legitimate venues -the 
ones within the city limits, at least - are consistently grimy 
places run by very down-to-earth individuals. Most people 
are too concerned with getting their own shit together to 
waste time blowing smoke up your ass. You either realise you 
need to get your own hustle tight so you can eat, or you're 
independently wealthy and quickly move to NYC, Phil ly, or DC 
in order to be around people who respect that kind of thing. 

"Our empire is crumbling. Our unbridled materialism, 
our macho pride, our culture's general view that other 
nations are either cheap USA knock-offs or backwards 
savage shitholes - the consequences are starting to stack 
up in plain view. I think, as people start to have more trouble 
paying their bills and finding real food, there's going to be a 
rejection of glamour. People are going to want help, they're 
going to want real comfort, not just distraction, not just inane 
spectacle. Musicians might move into the role that authors 
once held, strong individuals who help steer our culture 
through the labyrinth of deception we're born into. Film 
andTV require so many people and so much equipmentthat 
I think they'll be much more difficult to liberate, but rock'n'roll 
needs far less. You can do it all yourself, you don't need to 
enter into any Faustian bargains with cannibalistic enablers." 

What are the differences between Baltimore 
now and, say, ten or fifteen years ago? 

"There's more venues, and they don't close down 
nearly as fast. Ten to fifteen years ago, if you went to 'shows' 
(as opposed to 'concerts') you were a punk. Punk and its 
ideology loomed large over shows then. Now, not so much. 
You don't necessarily subscribe to punk ideals if you're in 
a band playing warehouses and basements and dives. In 
fact, it seems like most bands are doing everything they can 
to 'blow up'. Back then, it was a big 
deal to do a tour. Now, there are bands 
that book shows before they've even 
written any songs. It seems like a lot 
of kids want to be in a band in order 
to tour, to go on these little paid 
vacations with their friends." 

Besides your own projects, 
what Baltimore bands through 
the ages do you really love? 
What's engaging about what's going on now? 
"I will always love Lungfish and Universal Order 
Of Armageddon, and consider them the quintessential 
Baltimore bands. . .weird as hell, but also very imposing. 
Today there's some neon sweatpants goofball shit going 
down, but it's mostly imports, art college kids capitalising 
on the legacy of Baltimore as a "weird" place. The thing is, 
it's always been both weird AND scary. Baltimore's native 
strain of weirdness isn't downy, it's psychotic. 

"And of course I have so much love for the club scene. 
Another example of a Baltimore artform that is weird, but 
not downy, still rugged and kind of scary. The relentless, 
lo-fi sound of that scene when I was 18wasmindblowing. 
I figured out pretty fast that there were maybe a dozen 
people in the world who knew about this music outside of 
Baltimore, but it was huge here - so big that for years hip-hop 
heads would bitch about club harshing their vibe because 
girls would go dance to club instead of watching dudes rap." 
"The thing that's engaging about what's going on now 
is how chaotic it is. It's kind of like The Warriors- different 
crews in different parts of town, nobody really dominates. 
Wham City gets the most props outside of town, but that 
hasn't seemed to affect the way anybody treats each other. 
It goes back to the grim reality around us. Hard to take the 
adulation of some webzines to your head when you've got 
this reality right outside your window." 



36 1 plan b 





ponytail 

Words: George Taylor 
Photography: Frank Hamilton 

"I think we're all really psyched about music getting 
happier!"- Molly Seigel 

Forming in 2004, in response to a 'make a band' 
assignment at Maryland Institute College Of Art - 
"Best class ever!" says Molly -Baltimore's Ponytail 
released one of the few standout albums of last 
year that embraced jubilance as a fundamental 
component of thrashing out (see also Nouns, 
Skeleton). The title Ice Cream Spiritual is a perfect 
description for the transcendental sugar rush 
within. Tracks like 'Beg Waves' and 'Celebrate The 
Body Electric' outgrow their concrete gestation 
and make a break for the ocean... srsly, Ponytail's 
music crashes and splashes, coasts and washes. 
If I'm thinking Pacific it's 'cause I hearthe jubilant 
noise-pop of Japan's OOIOO and the psychedelic 
feedback of New Zealand's The Dead C, boosted 
by the natural highs that healthy living yields. 
There's no bass, 'cause with all this buoyancy there's 
no need for an anchor, right? 

Meanwhile, upfront, the vocal coming from 
Molly Seigel is a variegated run through of wild 
communication -functioning like audio Rorschach 
blots, what you pick out may end up saying more 
about you than Molly. So- is yr singing style part 
of any concept within the group, or did it just come 
out naturally through practice? 

"When I first started vocalising it just sorta came 
out," says Molly. " I knew that I didn't like the way 
a lot of singers were approaching singing currently 
and I wanted to do something different, but I also 
was unsure of my ability to actually sing, and just 
too nervous to really try. . .so it was born out of 
a combination of factors. 

" I guess I look at what I do as tapping into the 
energy of the music as much as possible and then 
trying to add something that it needs or just express 
it. It's like surfing and making something at the 
same time." 



Has coming out of a fine art background, with 
all four members being art graduates, informed 
the way that Ponytail operates/represents itself? 

"Idon'tthinkanyof us can deny that being 
so heavily exposed to conceptual art, that being 
born out of an art context has majorly affected 
everything we do from our live show, to writing, 
to how we answer interview questions. . .we have 



'It's like surfing and 
making something at 
the same time' 



a critically objective view of ourselves sometimes, 
we like to make fun of our band-ness. " 

What has forming in Baltimore meant to 
Ponytail? I can imagine that a scene with as much 
colour, variation, and a committed DIY atmosphere 
as yrs does, helps and inspires a hell of a lot? Do you 
have particular favourites/tight buddies? 

"I think starting in an exciting community 
probably influenced the energy level of the band, 
made it higher. . .it's influenced our live show more 
than our sound. The band Thank You is great and 
we are pretty close with them. Also, Double Dagger. 
The drummer for Double Dagger has a project 
called Smart Growth that is really awesome. There 
are countless others like Cex and Dan Deacon . . . 
it's always been a scene with a lot of different types 
of music happening." 

On Pitchfork.tvyou can currently view footage 
of the group playing in an NYC Laundromat, which 
is a minor stroke of metaphorical genius, as well 
as a cheeky prank. Sure, it says, Ponytail pretty 
much simulate the conditions of a monsoon for 
half an hour. ..but so does a washing machine. 
Of course, the band are all smiles the whole 
set through. 

www.myspace.com/jreamteam 




ecstatic sunshine 

Words: Beth Capper 

The classes taught at art school are outside 
the realm of what any other educational 
institution could get away with, the 
advertised syllabi merely a mask for some 
semester-long exploration of unbounded 
creativity. "I think what made Baltimore's 
music scene unique was the kind of 
education so many of us had at school, 
because of classes taught by Jeremy Sigler," 
says Ecstatic Sunshine's Matt Papich. 
"He taught a class called 'Para-Painting'. 
It was a painting credit, but in the class, 
there was only one assignment: start a band 
and perform with all the other bands of the 

"What made Baltimore's 
music scene unique 
was the kind of 
education so many of 
us had at school' 

class at the end of the semester. Each session 
of the class included watching films relating 
to music or performance. Some people were 
musicians, but most had no idea howto play 
instruments at all." 

Shortly thereafter, Ecstatic Sunshine, 
the double-guitar duo that matches 
Papich up with Dustin Wong, was born. 
Following three albums - 2004's New Kind 
of Imagination, 2006's Freckle Wars, and 
last year's Way- Wong went full time 
with Ponytail, and Papich recruited a new 
member in Kieran Gillen on electronics. 
The songs on Freckle Wars are bright and 
humorous, with pretty solos that bounce 
in the air, and then hit the ground running, 
ambushing soft notes by shredding at them. 
On Way, Gillen's additions sample and 
convert Papich and Wong's plucky guitar 
lines into hypnotic dronescapes. 

The more serious direction in which 
Ecstatic Sunshine are now heading marks 
them out from the Baltimore scene, which 
possibly explains their absence from the 
recent Round Robin Tour. The Baltimore 
scene may have spawned Ecstatic Sunshine, 
but they've got ambitions elsewhere. 

"I'd hope that people can consider my 
music without linking it specifically to 
Baltimore or the scene here," says Papich. 
"That's not to say that I'm unhappy to have 
been a part of all of it in some way, just that 
I'm wary of the wholething falling flat." 

www.myspace.com/ecstaticsunshine 



plan b 1 37 



baltimore 



scene and heard: baltimore 

Words: Lauren Strain 

Normal folk transformed into 
drooling fun-monsters by Dan 
Deacon's party-ray 

The Lexie Mountain Boys 

Not boys, but girls - five of them, spearheaded 
by one Lexie McMacchie. We're sick of words like 
'shamanic' and 'totemic', 'cause they're cropping 
up in all sorts of (high) places these days; and 
especially in reference to any all-female group, 
as though a bunch of women can't get together 
and make music without it sounding a little witchy, 
a little ritualistic -and you know that's patronising. 
But there's a sliver of relevance in those signif iers 
here, 'cause these Lexie Mountaineers' debut 
record, Sacred Vacation, is a protracted collision of 
mostly wordless voices, each track circling a fulcrum 
of light like a moth to magnesium. Recorded in a 
deserted church hall, Sacred Vacation is basically 
a recording of five people allowing themselves to 
be subsumed by the acceptance of human voicebox 
as toy, emulating duck 
sex, dog pants, pained 
screams, plaster rips, 
horn toots and silly 
screams. 'Catcall' sees 
the girls bitching and 
twitching and flinching: 
"You got a huuuuus- 
band!", they jeer, "You 
got a boyyyyyy- 

freyyynd". Live shows have featured human 
pyramids and painting the walls with their hair. 
www.myspace.com/mountainlex 

Teeth Mountain 

Future Islands recently told us their favourite 
sparring partners are these oiks, and, yeah, I get it: 
press the play button 




Duck sex, dog pants, 
pained screams, 
plaster rips, horn toots 
and silly screams 



becomes dominion of 
a fearsome experiment, 
instruments screaming 
like animals, drums 
swarming like insects. 
www.myspace.com/ 
teethmountain 



on their MySpace page 
and searing blue waves 
of scree turn caustic 
and the whole room 
becomes a percussion 
rack. It's an entrancing 
clamour of noise; 
wordless, concentric 
circles of thrilling clatter 
choose your body as 
their epicentre and build 
around it- 'Ghost 
Science' traps you in 
a translucent mesh of 
feedback and scythed 
light, where yer skull 



Future Islands 

Upset The Rhythm presented us with Wave Like 
Home, Future Islands' first album, last year; and 
my eye-goo melted, dribbled down my face and 
landed on my laptop. "Oh good god! " you cried, 
"That sounds horrendous! Why?!" Because, I tell 
you, it felt like someone had exhumed a clutch 
of pop songs buried before I was born, dug it 
out with a rusty old spade, flooded it in light 
and soldered buzzsaw synthy stuff and digi-pixel 
disco lites to the frayed nerves: "We could live 
out here forever !" gobbles singer Sam Herring. 
As (possibly) one of the most aesthetically similar 
of the Baltimore gangs to scene daddy Dan 
Deacon, they share his taste in video artwork - all 
chopped up pics and colour filters, computer 
game lexicon and plenty of kitten exposure. 
www.myspace.com/futureislands 




pos 

by their name t\ 
icy; and they're certainly the sunnier gang 
Itimore's wacky warehouse, their sugary 
songs bubbling at their seams with ecstatic 
keys and smiley, computer-generated splodges. 
I'm pretty sure they've made one of their 
videos (for 'Happy Creek') entirely from 
a sequence of Microsoft Paint masterpieces. 
It's all imbued with enough virulent joy to 
make you sick: but at least your vomit will 
be the colour of a whole packet of Skittles, 
and you'll look at it and be pretty impressed. 
Also: I'm beginning to cobble together a 
small theory that most of these bands sound 
so good precisely because they don't really 
say anything, and that there's often a lot of 
value in surrendering yourthoughts and 
voice to the current of sounds. Don't speak; 
use instinct, lose language. 
www.videohippos.com 



if** 1 



Adventure 

North Carolina-born, 
Baltimore-based 
Benny Boeldt directs 
a canny nod toward 
his sound before 
you've even popped 
the CD in the drive; his 
packaging utilises three 
colours only, and those 
colours, reader, are 
the bane of every office 
worker's life: magenta, 
cyan and the, urn, 
fancy name for that 
yellow colour. Printer 
colours! 

So this guy makes 
musicfrom... 
computers, right? Right. 
And it's chirpy, alive, 
and particularly 
influenced by the Sega 
Genesis games of yore, 
'cept transplanted 
through more synths, 
cogs and wheels and 
then told to aim high, 
forthedancefloor. 
If this music sounds 
anything like the perky 
conversations and 
the dinky disco parties 
held between nodes, 
then it must be pretty 
awesome being 
a laptop. 

www.myspace.com/ 
adventuresound 



Wye Oak 

Named after a resilient tree that stood for almost fifty decades in the 
grounds of Wye Mill, Maryland, you'd guess that the music of Jenn 
Wasner and Andy Stack would be resolute and generous. You'd be 
correct; debut record If Children receives listeners with care and 
attention, layering an isolated clarinet with sheets of blanched guitar 
and tender (if a little passionless) vocals. It's clear that Baltimore 
staples Beach House are an antecedent, and we'd argue that Wye Oak 
sound perhaps a little too comfortable within such a gauzy, hazy 
sphere - but lightly treading the fairy footsteps of fellow duo Victoria 
Legrand and Alex Scally is no faulty beginning. 
www.wyeoakmusic.com 



38 1 plan b 




en of clu 

\/ords: Ben Mechen 

ation: Anke Weckma 



The life and death of K-Swift, the female Bmore DJ that 
brought the city together 

21 July last year, MissKhia D Edgerton, aka the Club Queer 
K-Swift, who for over 10 years had been Baltimore club music's most 
influential and respected DJ, died in a swimming pool accident at 
" home. The day before, she had been mixing it up attl — ;+ v 
cape festival, a free event that tries to bring together 
•riously fractious city through music. She mixed quickly, ci 
:s in and out, shoulders thrown forward, her heavy black 
ging with the beats and regimental breaks. Total control 
)layed to college kids and corner boys and girls, and they all rocKt 
t; in Baltimore dancing is big and wild, sometimes real rump-shaking, 
Mthy dirty, other times dizzying, technical, with on-the-spot routinps 
jlled things like Crazy Legs, or the Spongebob. Some in the a 
' practised - a lot - and others clearly had no idea, shocking 
no shape. Everyone, though, did something. 
That's the memory I'll hold to my heart," says Buck Jones, a party 
. who held fort on stage with Swift again and again over the 
years. "It was our final time together, packed with all races, all ages... 
She was for the people. She never shunned anyone. She always had 
' " i." So when Swift died, the main city newspaper, who had voted 
t Baltimore's best club DJ four times, ran it on the front page. 
:ity's mayor offered her condolences on 92Q, the station where 
nade became famous, and where her show drew more listeners 
than any other within city limits. In Baltimore, club music is something 
you're born into, a real fabric of life thing. The north-east might be 
cradle of hip-hop, but here, it is club music, not rap, that ha 
r nearly 20 years been shaking down the crumbling blocks. 

Iialtimore pop music, 
wift started at 92Q in 1998. By that point, club music was about 
1 years old. It had grown out of Miami bass, but also hard, raw house 
and techno colliding with rap's sampling and call and response hooks. 
It worked with a limited palette, mainly because no one backtl 
■^d the right gear, but even today the template remains the san ic, 
eakbeats largely culled from only two songs (Lyn Collins' 'Think 
jt It', 'Sing Sing' by Gaz), warped snatches from old TV shows and 
cartoons, playing the dozens lewder and cruder than everyone 
Club music both then and now was wholly unrefined, proudly 
)lite, but real, local, and never taking prisoners, 
ut though Swift never changed the sound of Baltimore club, 
she helped change the game. Through her radio show, through th< 
ies she hosted and organised, and through her businesses, like 
abel and management company Club Queen Entertainment, 
le record pool she ran, she helped club music leave the hood 
>nomics of old behind. She wanted everyone to get paid what they 
earned, to get their records on shelves (not least her own, which were 
outselling Soulja Boy in the city at the peak of his fame), or to get 
DJs the latest tracks for the weekend. Over the last few years, figures 
like Aaron Lacrate, Diplo, and even Glasgow's Dress 2 Sweat Records, 
i used the internet to take a clutch of American microscene 
dwide, and club music has been no exception - indeed, you 
.., need to listen to a mix bySinden to hear how ubiquitous the 
Bmore template has become, a sure-fire and simply wayfor budding 
producers to destroy a dancef loor. K-Swift can take credit for this - 
before her few dreamed that club music could really reach outside 
^land, and none had given it the more foundations it needed 
iu Jo so. 

And, uniquely, she did all this against the grain; though club music 
is enjoyed by men and women pretty much equally- club is about 
dancing and it's always taken two -the club music industry, like so 
many others, has from the start been dominated by men. "When we 
used to do this club called the Tunnel," remembers Buck, "she would 
always come up to me before her set to make sure I'd keep saying he 
name and that she was the one mixing, because most people didn't 
believe her! " That soon changed. By 2008, Swift was more assured. 
She knew people, and especially teenage girls, looked up to her. 
She established her own all-female crew, the Murder Mamis, with 
herself behind the decks. She inspired a new generation of Baltimore 
club queens, like Rye Rye, who has just inked a deal with MIA's lr u ~' 
MIA herself hosted Swift's posthumous m\xJumpoff: Greatest h 
The legend is already growing. "Everyone has their own ways 
of remembering her," finishes Buck. "We're going to brir - iL 
Baltimore club scene to prominence. Her legacy will neve 




jas for . 
She never shunned an 
She always had time' 



v\ 






man of duty 

Words: Jesse Darlin' 
Photography: Cat Stevens 



Searching for a cure for the 
human condition: a tender 
hour # in a rented room # with 
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy 



I tell my housemate I'm to be granted an audience 
with the Prince. "Oh yeah?" she says. "Wow." 
She's a big fan, followed him for years. She's got 
loads of his records, and the dude's prolific. 
"He got me through two relationships, did old Will 
Oldham," she tells me, and offers to rip some CDs 
forme. "Sometimes sad music is really healing," 
she says as she hands them over. And smiles. 

Me, I haven't got any Bonnie 'Prince' Billy CDs. 
Maybe an old mix-tape with some Tortoise on it. 
It's not that I don't like Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. It was 
just that I was always somewhere else, or that my 
crew were all listening to other stuff, or I never 
had that one new lover who put a whole bunch 
of 'Prince' Billy on a mix for me so that we could 
listen to those dark dulcet tones while we lay doing 
all that love and mellow drama, soft in the hurt. 
In retrospect, it's a real bummer: still, better late than 
never. I spend the whole week inside the words of 
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. There are consistent themes. 
I fancy I spot certain narratives being played out. 
There is darkness, "soul-death", the endless cycles 
of things: in and out of love, in and out of the light. 
Listening to the oeuvre somewhat chronologically, 
I feel like the Prince and I are on a journey. It's a road 
I've travelled before, but not like this; I know these 
places - know them well - but on this long dark 
road I'm no longer walking alone, and the song 
guides the way home, home where the heart is. 

There's a book by Rogan P Taylor called The 
Death And Resurrection Show which traces the 
history of shamanism into showbiz, its modern 
equivalent; the author claims that the shaman acts 
as the "sacred clown", orthecipherthrough which 
the underworld comes streaming, screaming, all 
darkness transformed into light - stage lights - 
the music, the ancient storytelling rite. The shaman 
is fundamentally a healer, but also given to sickness 
and madness of his own. "The shaman's sickness 
is, in reality, everybody's sickness... The shaman's 
initial problem is, then, a concentrated version of 
the general human problem. His subsequent self- 
cure is. . .a cure for the human condition itself. " 

cursed sleep 

When I meet Will Oldham, it's in a hotel room: 
he's lying on the bed with his boots on, doing the 
crossword. The bed is a grey box in a grey cube; 
everything looks as though it's made of textured 
carpet. He's hairy and scruffy and fleshy-lipped 
and slightly grizzled-looking - utterly incongruous - 
and in all honesty, so am I. "This whole process is 
pretty strange, quite frankly," he says, referring 
to me, the press, the hotel, the whole shebang, as 
he gets up from the bed. They bring him six cans 
of beer and I feel like asking if we can't just crack 
'em open and get into it, but they're for later, for 
when all interviews are over, for the crossword 
and for the darkness at end of day. I'm nervous. 
It shows. I stammer something about not having 
come across his work in the past except recently 
because I've got a limited radar. 



"That's all right," he smiles. He's being kind. 
"I've got a limited radar too." 

Listening to the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy catalogue, 
sometimes it sounds as though it's the man 
Will Oldham speaking; sometimes it's someone 
else, perhaps a woman (the ancient shamans, 
masters of transformation, were also known to 
don the garb of a woman on occasion, channelling 
their own "spirit-wives") and sometimes they're 
universal hymns, incantations, summons; calling 
to the spirits and to the tribe to raise their own 
voices alongside : "A song that I am and you/ 
Sing me back into myself/When I wake, when 
I'm sleeping/the song is a man and a woman/ 
And everything else. " I ask him if the lyrics are 
directly autobiographical. 

"It depends. Sometimes, but then I think, 
well, how could this thing turn into a song that 
somebody else could sing, or somebody else 
could listen to and think that this is something 
that applies to him or her?" 

They're pretty universal themes, I say, but 
Lie Down In The Light sounds like the kind of 
album someone writes when they're in love, 
and then Beware sounds like that love has started 
to fray a bit at the seams. 



"I try to get to where I feel like the song has 
some muscle to it; that it can withstand a little bit 
of pummelling, and then I just sort of push it out 
of the nest." 

And has anyone ever really missed the point of 
a song? 

"How can they? I mean, if someone really hates 
a song then I think, well, that song wasn't for them 
and they've missed the point, but if someone's 
boughtthe record and has spentthe time listening 
to it, then the point is their point; it's their song, it's 
their record." 

So you don't have any kind of an agenda, as 
a performing figure, to stand up and deliver any 
kind of message? 

"If there is that agenda, it's just about the act 
of communication between us on this side of the 
music and the people on the listening side; just to 
identify that a communication exists and that there's 
some kind of connection when sometimes we miss 
those connections, and feel a little bit bereft or adrift 
when we can't sense or feel those connections. 
If there is an agenda it's about identifying them, 
or even building them, you know? Getting a little 
ambitious and saying, here's an idea, and I'm gonna 
try to make a song that presents this idea in such 



'I try to get to where I feel like the 
song has some muscle to it, and then 
I just sort of push it out of the nest' 



The Prince looks at me sagely. "I can't say that 
there are certain parallels between that record 
and my personal life. For example, on this last 
record there are two duets - one is about coming 
together and one is about coming apart. " 

Why is it called Beware?, I ask. 

The Prince is silent for a while. " Maybe because 
I was unsure of the forces that might have crept in 
during the assembling of the songs, so I thought 
it would be good to put it right out front so that 
people would be a little bit tender with it, a little 
bit careful." 

There's a lot of ambivalence on this new record, 
I say; some balls-out alley-cat defiance, 'I Don't 
Belong To Anyone' ("That's a good way to describe 
it," says Will), some sadness, a fragile hope. And 
there's also some soaring melodies in celebration 
of the wide-open horizon afforded by the absolute 
freedom of loneliness. 

"Yeah, a lot of uncertainty maybe. But it's really 
all in the ear of the beholder." 

Sure it is. Of course it is: that's the songwriter's 
gift to his listener. But when you write a song, 
I ask Will Oldham, doyouthinkabout-doyou 
care -how someone might interpret that song, 
or do you just let it fly away and go where it will? 



a way that you might even enjoy listening to it, 
which you might not have thought possible. " 

Not an agenda, then, so much as a calling. 
There it is again, the mediation between this side 
and the other side; the healing transformation that 
comes of the spirit channelled through music. Is it 
to fill your own void, Will Oldham, or is it to give 
voice to the silence? To reach out to others in their 
darkest hour, all the way through that 'Grand Dark 
Feeling of Emptiness' to the other side, to the light? 

"Well, anyone who can identify with that song, 
you know, we want 'em on our team. And that 
song might be a song that can serve a purpose 
at a time when the listener might feel purposeless. 
And if they can find a connection to that song 
then they might be able to find a connection 
to another song, which is another step further 
away from that purposeless feeling." 

Soyoudoitforthem? And not for you? 

"No, both. Cos I need it, you know? If nobody 
listened to the music there wouldn't be any 
connection made. Fortunately, at this point 
I've started to have some degree of an awareness 
of that community by making records and travelling 
around and meeting people at shows or whatever; 
or getting a letter every now and then." 



plan b 1 41 



bonnie 'prince' billy 




What, people who cite you as an influence, 
saying that your stuff has moved them along their 
own musical or personal journey? 

" Right. And by doing that, they're doing the 
same thing for me that they claim that I'm doing 
for them." 

Anyone you can name? 

" No, just musicians, or anyone who sends 
a letter, or a little thing that they've made, like 
a little sculpture or a drawing or a painting or 
a song, but oftentimes just a letter, you know? 
Ora note. Asingle sentence." 

I tell the Prince what my flatmate said about 
having got through two relationships with the help 
of his records. If your intention was to communicate 
the incommunicable with those who feel silenced, 
I say, then you've been successful. He nods; he 
knows, but knows how to take a compliment 
with dignity. 

"In musical ways as well. A melody can be put 
together in such a way that another musician won't 
feel restricted, you know, because a lot of times 
people are trying to restrict the possibilities of what 
you can think or do or play or sing." 

On Will Oldham's Wikipedia entry there's a 
quote by someone who claims that Bonnie 'Prince 



Billy' doesn't rehearse, as such. He just goes into the 
studio with the singers and musicians and does it. 
Is that true, I ask. Is that what you mean? 

"It's not quite true. Everyone knows the structure 
of the song, they know the basic melody, they 
know all the lyrics, and everyone is somewhat able 
to listen and improvise. That's what they do. I guess 
for me the thrill of recording something is to record 
the sounds of people playing off each other 
and listening to each other and reacting to 
each other. I often find the unique power of 
recording equipment is that it actually can capture 
something as it's happening, something that's 
never happened before." 

So you're looking for the entropic, the 
momentary quality? 

"I'm looking to hear the things we don't get 
to hear. We don't get to hear how these musicians 
came together. Well, here you can hear what 
happened when I played this and this person 
played that or vice versa, or if this person gives 
this foundation for the vocal melody. I'm really 
fond of this last record I made. They were recorded 
in my house and it just sounds like three people in 
a room." 

What's the instrumentation? 



"That would be acoustic guitar, electric guitar 
and some violin." 

No drums or anything? 

"No drums, no." 

Will Oldham doesn't use drums a lot. It's radical. 
We've always been told that the drum is the basic 
bottom line, the punctuation to the storytelling; 
without that stiff backbone the music takes on 
an organic quality, inhabiting the soft spaces of 
the psyche. 

" I have a very difficult relationship with a drum 
kit," he says. "It's like this choo-choo train force; 
at this point in the song you're like, let's open 
it, let's change it, let's slow it down, and then it's 
like, WHAT? CAN'T HEAR YOU! I like hand drums 
a lot, though. On Lie Down In The Light we used 
a lot of hand drums, just sitting in a very small circle 
and we could play and sing. Hand drums or gourds 
and shakers." 

So when you're all there, I say, and you feel like 
it's time to break it down a bit, do you just look 
at everyone to give them the cue - the maestro 
in his house - or do you agree beforehand? How 
do you know? 

" People are listening to each other. You take 
a cue from whoever takes the lead at a given 



bonnie 'prince' billy 



moment. I mean, someone might drop out and 
you think, ohhhh. . .that sounds gooood. And you'll 
drop out too." 

So how many takes do you usually do? 

"Anything from one to ten or twelve, depending 
on the song." 

Do you know immediately if it's the right one? 

"You kinda know, but it's mysterious. . . 
sometimes we'll play it and it'll be like, yeah, but 
let's do it again. And then we'll do it again and one 
of the five of us will be like yeah, that's it, that's the 
one; and the rest of us will be like, I don't know. . . 
and then we'll go back in and listen to both of them 
and we might all say, yeah, we had it the first time. " 

I imagine the shaman in seance, in session, in 
a circle of voices. Here leading, there following, 
now lifting, then falling. You make it sound like 
a group process, I say. 

" I worked on writing the songs for a long time 
alone, going overthem and going overthem, 
and then this time is all about sharing and figuring 
it out with other people. " 

On Beware there's a crazy moment at which 
a flute appears and dances across the song's horizon 
like a ghost of the air; there's a horn somewhere, 
there's even a synth. Did you write the song with 
those sounds in mind, or was it all circumstantial, 
I ask, half-knowing the answer already. 

" No. I try to put the songs together without any 
instrumentation in mind at all. " 

I thought he'd say that, too. I'm starting to get 
the picture; I'm starting to get what's so special 
about Will Oldham. In an age in which needlepoint 
musical precision is possible and prevalent-the 
sleek beats of robo-tronica, programmed by 




Figuring out email is one thing, but the whole 
changing of people's musical landscapes and 
social landscapes happens so quickly; it can feel like 
you're building a community, but you're potentially 
distancing someone who's two years ahead or two 
years behind you. Where it used to be a record, 
a cassette and a compact disc; now you can get it 
on iTunes and play it on your iPod or Zune, you can 



always remained true to the human aspect, to his 
own long and - probably - hard road. I could sit and 
drink beer with the guy all night; maybe at some 
point he'd pull out a guitar and we could harmonise 
some, see what comes out. But home is far away, 
and I'm there with my notebook on the other side of 
the music. We shake hands. How many more of 
these do you have to do? I ask. 



'The unique power of recording equipment is that it 
actually can capture something as it's happening, 
something that's never happened before' 



a computer to sound clean and infallible, this guy's 
made a science of harnessing the moment, at once 
capturing and letting soar the free bird of music. 
And in his voice, even after all these years, there's 
something of awe for the process, which is greater 
than the sum of its parts, which is older than 
Oldham and universal like the feeling of emptiness 
and the fear of death and the lightness of love. 
This is noteworthy and wonderful in such 
accelerated, tech-happy times. We talk, the Prince 
and I, about the difference between MP3s and vinyl 
(for the record, Oldham listens to MP3sonthe road, 
but never at home, although he loves "organising 
music in these big ways, making a playlist by three 
artists and there's nine records interplaying with 
each other. I try to arrange songs like in a way that 
I'd be compelled by their juxtaposition"); we talk 
about the " poor bad songs" that can be left off 
a playlist without the ceremonial hassle of skipping 
a track on vinyl or cassette; about recording 
equipment, about the 'lo-f i' label that has become 
synonymous with the man and his music. 

"You know, I used to be really insulted when 
somebody would say something was lo-f i, because 
we would try the best we could to make it sound 
good, and then when other people would say, like, 
'Oh, they used really crappy recording equipment 
to make this shitty-sounding record', we'd think 
like, wait a minute! We really tried!" 

There's even a line somewhere on Beware 
about empty inbox syndrome: "I open the awful 
machine to nothing. "Are the machines awful, 
I ask? All of them? 

"Well, a factor of it - 1 was gonna say a problem, 
but that's pessimistic -is that it changes so much. 



torrent it, you can Napster it, Pandora, last.f m . . . 
there's little common technology. And it's kind of 
neat, but it does help to separate us a little more. " 

my life's work 

And that's not what it's all about, according to 

Bonnie Prince Billy: it's about reaching across the 

gaps between us, giving voice to the spirit, healing 

the sickness of the 

heart. I get it, now. 

Will Oldham is, and 

has always been, 

a passionately human 

artist who would seek 

and find the moment 

of entropy, the sacred 

synergy, at the heart of 

the music. The sound 

of people listening to 

each other, he calls it, 

but perhaps it's the 

sound of the silence, 

the darkness, the Other, 

listening at the door. 

Waiting to enter, but 

kept in check by the 

song. The labels came 

later: lo-fi, roots, 

acoustica, whatever. 

"I don't care about the 

technology," he says. 

"It's good, it's bad, it 

doesn't matter." Fidelity 

has a double meaning, 

of course; Oldham has 



"A few," he grins, showing teeth. "It's really 
rough, really rough." 

But he knows it's one of the shaman's 
duties to deliver this stuff unto the disciples. 
Humble and thoroughly human, Will Oldham is 
nonetheless a man who understands the nature of 
his calling, to provide a service. For his own good, 
and for ours. 



Bonnie 'Prince' Billy 

Beware (Domino) 

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy has always sounded 
ancient.There's scant dispute that 1 999's 
I See A Darkness'\s his pinnacle, when he 
sounded old and tired, deep in thought, 
after thought, after thought. But Will 
Oldham's got younger with time, and 
he's changed his tack. 

2008's Lie Down In The Lightwas 
chirpy. He ain't returning to where he 
came from. . . . Darkness was a decade 
ago, and happiness has ebbed and 
flowed since then. The beard has 
fluctuated. The hair is going, going, 
gone. Since, collaborations have been 
many, and Beware \s no exception. 

His main band uses Town And 
Country and Cairo Gang members, and 
Wilco, the Mekons and Exploding Star 
Orchestra peeps pop up. Everything 
sounds complete and perfect. 'Heart's 
Arms' is deepened with cello and violin, 
Bonnie's gorgeous voice strains: "Why 
don 'tyou write me anymore?/Haveyou 



found something as good, just next 
door?"'\ Don't Belong To Anyone', a neat 
country twang, puts his delicate vocal on 
a pedestal: "There's no one who'll take 
care of me/It's kind of easy to have some 
fun/When you don 't belong to anyone. " 
There's no voice like Bonnie's in any land, 
no lyrics either. Moods may shift, but a 
self-deprecating, sexual humour prevails. 
"In a pit of bodies, I am loved by all/By 
ham hock, by handkerchief/By damsel 
and by doll, "he sings on 'Death Final', 
while 'You Don't Love Me' winks "You 
don 't love me, but that's alright/Because 
you can do me all through the night". 

But what might come across as crude 
in the hands of another is charming in the 
mouth of the Bonnie 'Prince'. Because no 
one else alive sings romance like Bonnie, 
so driven is he by a love that may or may 
not come. He's as soothing as a cradle 
holding a baby. The title is a warning: 
nothing lasts forever. Nothing is certain. 
Beware is just what's happening now. 



Tom Howard 



plan b 1 43 



>>v- 



BR: 





L 


all 


I 





••> 



* nh 



tanz musik 

Words: Pil and Galia Kollectiv 

Born out of the experimental flux of late Seventies Dusseldorf, 
DAF honed industrial heat and primitive electronics into a 
raw # brutalist dance music of sinewy physicality and heated 
provocation. On the eve of their first London show in 25 years, 
Plan B meets Robert Gorl and Gabi Delgado-Lopez to talk 
contradiction, conflict and new directions 



Celebrating Deutsch-Amerikanische 
Freundschaft's 30th birthday feels pretty weird. 
Will we ever get used to the life cycle of the 
avant-garde, the movement that matures, the 
market that absorbs it, the contradictions that 
pave the way for the next movement? Should 
we agree with Boris Grays that museums are 
useful only as cemeteries, archiving failed 
revolutions? Shouldn't we burn the records of 
the ones we admire most instead of compiling/ 
re-mastering/re-mixing? Shouldn't we resist 
self-mythologising - the pseudo-authenticity 
of moments which seemed insignificant or even 
pathetic when they first occurred, but became 
seminal when reproduced as commodity (think 
of the half-empty country and western bar 
turned CBGB T-shirt, orthe drunken, studenty 
performances of Romanian immigrants that 
became the Cabaret Voltaire retrospective at 
theMoMA)? 

On the other hand, maybe turning 30 is 
simply another turn of the screw in the career 
of a band that made its name by employing 
contradictions, conflict and antagonism. 
Just as DAF decided to disappear for a while 
at the height of their momentum, following 
their trilogy of records spanning 1981 to 1 982 — 
or their reaction to being hailed as founding 
fathers of the sparse, industrial EBM scene: 
by producing only slick club pop throughout 
the mid Eighties-theband now want to signal 
that being revered by everyone from industrial 
goths to electroclashers is not a good enough 
reason to stop working on new directions. 
Talking to Robert and Gabi over Skype, it soon 

44 1 plan b 



becomes clear that DAF were always aware of 
the contradictions inherent in every progressive 
moment in the history of music. They loved the 
dynamism of early punk , the democratisation of 
music production, and the de-professionalisation 
of the music business. But they simply couldn't 
understand why the punks insisted on playing 
the same instruments as their fathers, why the 
change was limited to re-inventing an already 
existing genre. 

Robert: "We liked the idea of punk music 
as a free form. But we didn't like the music itself, 
the guitars and the fact that it sounds just like the 
old rock. It didn't make sense that people used the 
old instruments, so we took what we wanted from 
punk, the energy and attitude, but not the music. 
We wanted to combine it with the music of the 
future - electronic music. " 

Gabi: "We were more influenced by Donna 
Summer and Giorgio Morodor, Suicide, Tangerine 
Dream and Kraftwerk. But people today can't 
imagine what it was like making music before 
punk. If you wanted to make music you thought: 
'I must study music, I must go to a studio that 
costs a thousand pounds a day, I need a producer'. 
And all of a sudden it was like learn three chords, 
and if you had a good idea you didn't need 
education, a producer, money, just a cheap studio. 
If you don't have a label -make your own." 

Recently, Uli Edel's TheBaaderMeinhof 
Complex followed the process of radicalisation 
that Ulrike Meinhof went through, from Sixties 
hippy activist to revolutionary terrorist. Trying to 
unpack the logic of European terror, the movie 
illustrates how the ethos of mediated violence, 



meant to shake the bourgeoisie into recognition 
of their own complacency, was rooted in Sixties 
counterculture. The years between the late Sixties 
and the mid Seventies form the cultural space that 
punk traversed so quickly by making explicit the 
inherent violence and reactionary individualism 
the hippy ideal contained. In this respect, it's 
interesting to follow the evolution of the DAF 
sound from their 1 979 debut to the highly 
polished trilogy of Alleslst Gut, Gold Und Liebe 
and Fur Immer, to see how the band negotiated 
the impossible truce between the openness and 
experimentation of Krautrock and the crude 
minimalism of punk, eventually betraying 
both. If punk was an ugly version of what 
the counterculture wanted to hide from itself, 
DAF were the horrible truth that punk did not 
dare utter. It took the band a few years to find 
its style, says Robert, and musically their first 
recordings were an experiment to find a way 
out of rock formula, but also out of the soft, folky 
side of Krautrock. The debut EP, 22 instrumental 
fragments over 30 minutes, sounds like an allergic 
reaction to music in the late Seventies, a spitting 
out of poisonous material to prepare for the tight 
industrial pop of the albums that followed. 

Robert: " Because of punk we decided in the 
early stages of the band to go to London. We were 
hanging out in Portobello Road outside the Rough 
Trade shop. Daniel Mi Her found us there and he 
was about to release his first single on Mute, 
The Normal. People in the shop used to say, 
'What are these fucking Germans doing out 
here?' We had no money and were trying to ask, 
in a very open or outspoken way, for a place to 




stay from the people in Rough Trade. And they did. 
Some of us were actually staying with Daniel Miller's 
mum. I lived for three years in London. We had our 
first gigs there and that's where we released our 
first album, Die Kleinen UndDie Bosen, half of 
which was recorded live at the Electric Ballroom." 
When the band returned to Germany to work 
with Krautrock legend Conny Plank, they found it 
to be fertile ground for scandal. DAF managed to 
make everyone into enemies. They enraged both 
right and left because of their use of Fascism as a 
theme for a dance song in 'Der Mussolini'. When 
Gabi sings "Dance the Mussolini", it is impossible to 
determine his level of engagement to - or distance 
from - Fascism. Is it meant as a joke? Is it an implicit 
critique of the rise of neo-Fascism in Europe? Can 
we really use Hitler as a purely aesthetic sound, as 
meaningless as a 'da doo ron-ron'? Even worse was 
explicit gay love fantasy 'Der Rauber Und Der Prinz', 
a determinedly un-subtle treatment of a taboo, 
set to a non-cuddly, but strangely catchy, fairytale 
tune. The band always resisted literal interpretations 
of their songs. No, they weren't a couple and the 
song wasn't about their relationship, they kept 
telling journalists. Most disturbing perhaps was 
'Kebabtraume', an early song also recorded by 
Mittagspauseas'Militurk'. For the most part the 
song sounds like a right-wing rant about the Turks 
taking over Europe, a persuasive replication of 
paranoid racism, except for the last line, which 
declares, in a messianic tone, 'We are the Turks 
of the future!" "The song is about Turks being 
spies- it's a funny spy story", says Robert, avoiding 
our attempts to understand the song's political 
implications. "No, really, it's about espionage!" 



However, controversy was always integral to 
DAF, and if their sexual politics confused people 
across the political map, this fit right in with the 
kind of challenge to post-war liberalism first posed 
by punk: "We were always been accused of being 
Nazis. In the early Eighties we had already started 
to take the piss out of the media. We started playing 
a game with them and they followed. We liked 
playing games. Our favorite was 'Hit Or Shit'. 
We'd sit in a cafe and when people came along 
we judged if they were hit or shit. We were very 
young. We looked at how the person walked, the 
attitude. It was pretty shitty, playing 'Hit Or Shit'." 

Have all the taboos have been broken? 
Could the same games be played today? 

Robert: "I'm not sure Germany today is more 
liberal. The media is still pretty conservative. We like 



'Whenever there are new 
technologies, a new form 
of art is born' 



to break open things, to play with fire and to break 
down dogmas about sexual political and religious 
identity. Religion, especially in relation to Islam, 
is still a strong taboo in Europe" . 

Gabi: "I agree with Robert that taboos are still 
possible to break now. The old things, like Nazism 
and gay sex are still controversial, but there are also 
new ones now. Western society in general is maybe 



more tolerant, but it's not that its spirit has changed. 
Rather the institutions - the state, the church - are 
losing power, and allow more tolerance. Sex is still 
a taboo. Religion is still a taboo and is getting more 
and more so. People can make jokes about the 
Catholic church, but nobody dares joking about 
Islam because it is too dangerous, so people don't 
touch it, even though it is a totalitarian religion." 

While Gabi is right on some level about the 
sensitivity of religion in contemporary discourse, 
we find this statement disturbing. It seems DAF 
at 30 haven't lost their ability to shock. However, as 
he emphasises, breaking taboos and shaking people 
up was only ever one aspect of what they did. 

Gabi: " It's also entertainment and excitement. 
As George Clinton said: 'Free your ass and your 
mind will follow'. That still works." 

Can you identify anyone 
today who manages to 
challenge and entertain? 
Gabi: "Of course there 
is still a lot of great stuff, 
not just in techno, but in hip- 
hop, for example. I just wish 
there were alternatives - not 
internet companies, owned 
by American firms. People 
don't have new ideas anymore. It's easier to recycle. 
In the Seventies, new technological developments, 
the computer and synth, led people to adapt to 
what was possible. Whenever there are new 
technologies, a new form of art is born. The guy 
who invented the printing machine has done a more 
important job than Shakespeare. The person who 
invented the piano is more importantthan Chopin." 



plan b 1 45 



Peaks and troughs and 
peaks and troughs 



days and nights with everett true 

Afrirampo Photo: Justin Edwards 

Let's start with the dancing shoes. 

Running rampant at ATP Mount Buller: 

keyed up like they ain't been keyed up for 
years, Warren Ellis grabbing me round the 
shoulders and saying, "It's a privilege to 
be watching The Laughing Clowns with 
you, Everett", keenly anticipating every 
exclamatory, fiery Louise Elliott sax break, 
pogoing when Jeff ery Wegener's rollicking 
roustabout of a beat becomes too dizzy 
(particularly during 'Theme From Mad Flies, 
Mad Flies'), resting a strapped-up knee 
(caused by walking up one too many ski 
slopes) during a mightily melancholy 
'Collapse Board', kicking sideways during 
'Everything That Flies' like so many Japanese 
Stereo Total fans, throbbing with barely- 
contained excitement while the out-there 
jazz-splattered introto 'The Flypaper' builds 
with claustrophobic density, spasming 
uncontrollably during an extended 'Eternally 
Yours', guitarist Ed Kuepper creating an 
inclement wall of sound to match even Neil 
Young at his most ragged, thinking back two 



T 



decades previous when I last caught this band, 
always antagonistic, always challenging, 
throwing in fartoo many horn breaks and 
sax solos to be accepted by yr average Birthday 
Party fan (read: Goth), these songs being my 
own personal soundtrack... 

Let's continue with the dancing shoes. 

Running wicked at ATP Brisbane: buoyed 
like they ain't been buoyed for weeks, On i 
of Afrirampo tapping me on the shoulders 
and instructing me to carry her through the 
audience so she can continue singing her 
joyful, feral chant up close, the crowd's faces 
painted with delight and awe, bouncing 
around as the drum kicks another wanton 
flurry of exhibitionism, feet tapping as Pika 
and Oni start call and response, hurrying as 
the guitar races through several shades of Acid 
Mothers Temple and Sixties garage band The 
Rats, overwhelmed at the generosity of spirit, 
the sparseness, the noise level, the peaks and 
troughs and peaks and troughs and peaks and 
troughs, kicking to three sides like so many 
female Jeremy Jay fans, ignoring the sweat 
making a matted mess of hair and face, guitar 
a siren of sound like Kim Gordon at her most 
rampant, thinking back a decade previous and 



realising this is what I believed Huggy Bear 
sounded like, but way too fun and magical to 
be ignored by any but the most dunderheaded 
of macho assholes, these songs being my own 
personal nirvana... 

Let's end with the dancing shoes. 

Running happy at Laneway Brisbane: 
driven like they ain't been driven for days, 
the weight of bad fucking bad Australian 
and indie rock lifted from my shoulders where 
they'd been dragging them down, rounded, 
The Drones sarcastic and snide and alert 
and burning into the warm evening air, songs 
visibly shaking at the seams, bass monitors 
and guitar pedals cutting out, Dan concussing 
Michael when he hits the cymbal once too 
often, Fiona rolling her eyes, her back to 
the crowd, Gareth hurling his mic stand and 
guitar, giving up and passing vocal duties 
around, 'The Minotaur' brutally brilliantly 
alive. ..and I'm thinking back like, fuck, 25 
years back, and thinking, fuck yeah, this band 
understands rock's fundamental mantra - 
remember the three S's, spontaneity, 
spontaneity, spontaneity... and fuck, yeah 
fuck, this band are greater than. . . 

Let's end with the dancing shoes. 



Babi-chin 

BrudenellSo 

The fog of apathy clears. No more polite 
handclaps. No more backache, cock-eyed 
spine. No more crushing can in hand, 
consider slicing face off with jagged edge. 
No more boredom. 

It's Babi-chin, the little brother of 
Chincillafest. And Beards. Are back. In 
town. Beards are disgustingly fun: a blaze 
of lycra and vitriol. They are fierce and 
determined and their Devo-meets-Erase 
Errata song-monsters push the party dance 
into languishing legs. 

Picore bring it down an octave or two. 
Polite gestures between songs, in broken 



Spanghsh, do little to soften the blow as 
they splice through lungs and spleen with 
their gutsy, melodious hardcore. Guitars 
change hands a thousand times and as 
vocalist Abuelo cradles his mic, fear and 
threat are radiating from his eyes. 

A change in beat and tone reveals 
Indica Ritual. Performative and perky, 
like their hometown counterparts and 
personnel-sharers aPAtT, they pick and 
prod at Jagstang and keys, tip-toe dancing 
in rainbow clobber. The highlight is 'My 
Night Tangle', supreme English pop of the 
highest order: spatters of Kate Bush, Duran 
Duran and Jarvis Cocker's arching eyebrow 
decorating our microsphere. 



What started out as something 
of a non-event ends in a sublime 
cataclysm, when Cleckhuddersfax 
steam-roll through the pack, making 
mincemeat of our collective inhibitions. 
With his vocal effects box strapped across 
his chest like a cyborg's satchel, Lawrence 
plays lyrical hopscotch over his 
bandmates' prog patterns -demented 
and dashing, a human splash of lycra 
(more lycra !) and vocoded party sermons. 
The crowd is a jagged blur. Limbs, digits 
and hair all thrash and whirl: a mass 
sacrificial offering of the final dregs 
ofself-conciousness. 
HayleyAvron 



Ben Butler And Mousepad 

Brudenell Social Club, Leed 

Ben Butler And Mousepad is the brand 
spanking nom deplume of one half of the 
Scottish nonsense-pop duo Gay Against 
You. He is also both halves of Germlin. 
You may remember him from that time 
you partook in a frenetic conga with him 
around your local independent-minded gig 
venue, or guffawing with abandon as him 
and his GAY band-buddy trade inter-song 
banter like disses in an MC battle. You may 
remember him, you may not. Either way, 
justdon'tcallhimBen. 

Joe Howe occupies the stage looking 
like a severely emaciated Frankie Bovle, 



46 1 plan b 



The songs 
crumble into 
ambience 






> 









sounds like nothing 

Words: Pil and Galia Kollectiv 

Photography: Simon Fernandez 

US Girls 

Old Blue Last, London 

Braving the snowto come outtonight, we 
knew this was going to be an adventure, but 
didn't expect to be swallowed up in a time 
warp. You know that moment in trashy films 
where a flashback is preceded by (or ends in) 
some Fifties or Sixties music that reverberates 
into a whirlpool of sound, signifying the lapse 
of time? US Girls' music is that moment drawn 
out to an entire film, like the Titanic crashing 
over and over again into the iceberg. 

Standing alone on stage in a leotard and 
jeans, with just a few effect pedals and what 
looks like a custom-built old amp, Megan 
Remy, the band's sole member, launches into 
a cover of the Kinks' 'Days' sung from the end 



of time with what could be a cement mixer for 
accompaniment. Eschewing the obvious trick 
of all-synth-and-no-soul cover versions, this 
near-karaoke injects more emotion into the 
song than the original, more Suicide than 
Flying Lizards and that still doesn't come close. 

This formula is incredibly, simply and 
shockingly original, a take on pop history 
that sounds like nothing else. Despite the 
heavy blanket of John Dwyer-worthy effects 
over Remy's voice and the deliberately modest 
presentation, there is something funny and 
disturbing about the songs that bring to 
mind the Residents at their best. At certain 
moments, the songs crumble into ambience, 
then further into a series of noises without 
meaning. But then Remy somehow picks 
them up with her microphone as if they were 
feathers and collects them together into a tail 
that drags behind her disembodied vocals by 
just a few inches. Like the peacock, it's hard 



to say if the tail is the essence of the bird or 
a crippling hindrance: the music and vocals 
very rarely touch but always remain aware 
of each other, always just a quarter tone apart. 

On the way home after the gig, the buses 
are running again and we're lucky enough to 
catch one after only a short wait, still with a 
few drops of hot brandy that we pre-packed 
in athermos in anticipation of a long icy walk 
home and a shortage of well equipped San 
Bernard dogs. For once, we learn to appreciate 
the deep silence of a city under siege. The 
weird sounds of US Girls keep playing in 
our heads. Is this the future of the city after 
the demise of the petrol engine? Will all the 
cities of the near future be filled only with 
the electric low hum of a Toyota Prius? Will 
this silence change music, will we be able 
to hear more or less? Would all noise music 
sound like that remote echo from the 
cinematic flashback? 



one hand on hip and pushing his thick- 
rimmed glasses back towards his eyes with 
the other. Wandering over to his keyboards, 
he has the deceptive air of a man unused 
to the task of entertaining a crowd of semi- 
static humans. 

Musically, Ben Butler is as neat as 
Joe's moustache. Disco rhythms meld into 
Seventies cop show theme tunes, bursting 
from his Korg to rattle the onlookers, many 
of whom are making moves somewhere 
on the verge of dancing. It's all a lot more 
concise and structured than Germlin, or 



Gay Against You, and visually there's a lot 
less to grab hold of. I guess he's just busy 
with all that keyboard trickery for too much 
eye contact. With a flourish, he shakes the 
last drops of noise from his hair and leaves 
the stage with a humble thank you. No 
conga, no nothing. 
HayleyAvron 

Emeralds 

Luminaire, Lo 

Emeralds make music to get lost in. 
As anyone who's spun their recent 



Solar Bridge and/or What Happened 
can tell you, theirs is a luxuriously 
blissful blanket cut from the same 
cosmic cloth as Cluster and Popol Vuh, 
ideally designed for hypnagogic states. 
But tonight the trio aren't hitting the 
same meditative peaks. This is a safety- 
first performance, dwelling on burbling 
sprees of warm analogue, a slowly 



undulating series of rolling waves 
nudged nervously into Harmonia 
territory by Mark McGuire's Michael 
Rother-esquequitar licks. 



It might be the tireless chattering 
pack of hyenas at the bar, or the self- 
conscious restraint of the performers 
on stage, but something vital is missing 
Where's the temporal suspension 
that I feel as I crank up 'The Quaking 
Mess' or'Disappearing Ink' in the 
confines of my bedroom? It splinters 
in a moment as another plastic glass 



shatters under some klutz s foot and, 
again, I'm awoken to my surroundings. 
Take-off postponed. 
Spencer Grady 



plan b 1 47 



Hugging a 
Zeitgeist 




:V\ 



catch fire 

Words: Tom Howard 

November Fleet photo: Simon Fernandez 

Ladyfest Goldsmiths 

Goldsmiths University, London 

Ladyfest is under-attended. This might have mattered if 
everyone wasn't here for a reason, to be part of something. 
That's already widely appreciated, isn't it? Every note 
twanged, skin thwacked, poem uttered or copy of Riot Grrrl: 
Revolution Girl Style Now! sold is backed up with purpose, 
reason and cause. It means everything to everyone here. 

The large, wooden-floored Stretch (Goldsmiths 
University's hive of counterculture-appreciating activity) 
has an aura of warmth. It's an attractive room, dimly lit with 
dark walls. And it takes November Fleet, at their debut 
show, no time to fill the space with sound. 

Fledgling enough to have an empty MySpace (decorated 
with an elegant pirate ship) they have, at worst, promise. 
Their off-key harmonies are a charmingly deliberate ploy to 
fleck their Sleater-Kinney loving pop-punk with leftfield 
obscurity. They flit between genres like an unfocused rabble. 
But why the hell would they have focus? They'll grow. And 
next time they won't rely on power-drumming and shouting. 

Nothing similar applies to Docker MC, a brasher Kate 
Nash with sparkier syntax. Sitting on a stool with half of 
her dark hair cut short, she spits lively, wordy poetry from 
memory. She loves The Smiths and ain't afraid to show 
it. Her real name is Laura Duckworth and she's hugging 
a Zeitgeist. 

As are Betty And The Werewolves, who win the 
Ladyfest award for Band Most Like Vivian Girls. Pleasingly, 
they're superb. Dirtier live than on record, they're speedy, 
lo-f i and muffled, and have cheeky and cute guitar spats. 
You have to dance. Their drummer is the first boy playing on 
stage, and Sir Dancelot Douglas' beats are perfectly rushed. 
It gives the quartet a loveable urgency, White Stripes solos 
and jolty Deerhoof breakdowns. 'Wind Up', about "violent 
kissing" is their best three minutes. Concise, smart and sharp. 

But not as sharp as the point of Rachel Mary Callaghan's 
stiletto heel. She, the fireball who fronts doomy art-punks 
Kasms, could break every bone in your body, red hair 
running riot in ripped black denim over ex-Test Icicle Rory 
Brattwell's rhythms. But he's not the star. Callaghan's takes 
that accolade as Black Sabbath riffs ease into scratchy, 
dangerous, ominous guitars that give Callaghan the 
confidence to work Ladyfest up to climax. 

Barely anyone is left for Das Wanderlust, humble victims 
of a headline slot starting long after the last trains have 
rolled out of New Cross. Their keyboard, glockenspiel and 
drum combos are unloved. They're a minimalist Los 
Campesinos! with none of the twee. They bleep. They pop. 
They bop like The Research. Leader Laura Simmons jabbers 
nervous nonsense between songs. They'll have other 
chances. Ladyfest is Rachel Mary Callaghan's. She's the only 
lady in Kasms. But her noise is loudest of all. 



Men Of Unitus/Holy Stat 

The Oakford Social Club, Read 

The morning after some heavy birthday 
celebrations, and a return to my hometown 
is fast becoming an emotionally torrid 
affair. Street lights bleed, unforgiving, 
into my dilated pupils. But Holy State 
take my mental trauma and channel 
it back into blocks of crushing noise, 
with a dark-force menace reminiscent 
of the Jesus Lizard. Confrontational yet 
uncalculated, gracefully aggressive and 



any Sherman-shirted alcho-goon that 
dares to try and invade their space, 
the band race through a 30-minute 
set that leaves all in the strangles of 
punk aggression. 

Men Of Unitus extend meta and 
physical spatial boundaries further, with 
the band employing shirtless howling and 
an ability to inspire depravity in those 



within a five-foot radius. Their set ends 
with band members being pushed around 
the venue on leather sofas, having served 
to unite us all. 
Ben Webster 

Wolves In The Throne Room 

Underworld, London 

The thought of experiencing ambient black 
metal live prompts a certain cognitive 
dissonance. Sure, the whole wave of ultra 
lo-fiBM, propelled through a mist of tape 
hiss, has found its own niche amongst 
metal fans. No enterprising longhair, 
however, has yet succeeded in making 
a fetish of the sort of bad-PA sound that 
moulds every instrument together into 
a mulch of gelatinous gloop. 

But while there are moments tonight 
whenWolveslnTheThroneRoom,forall 
their shaking torsos and frenetic fretboard 
manoeuvres, sound like little more 



than a surging tide of sludge pursued 
by a lynch mob of angry war drums, 
there's a deftness to what they do, too. 
Absent of the corpsepaint as beloved 
of their Norwegian kin, instead adopting 
a more Crass-like, anarcho-tinged visual 
aesthetic in line with modern US black 



metal, twin guitarists Nathan Weaver 
and Will Lindsay build to melodic, 
strangely wistful peaks. When they 
do extend claws and go for the jugular - 
Weaver's hoarse screams set against 
lashed cymbals and jagged eruptions - 
it's with a savagery that feels intensified 
by what came before. 
Louis Pattison 

Zombie-Zombi 

Madame Jojo's, Lo 

Zombie-Zombie are late. It's frustrating. 
Cosmic Neman - aka Neman Herman 
Dune and his partner in tribal electro- 



wizardry, Etienne Jaumet- clamber 
on stage and yelp and pound the drums 
like nothing's happened. Nothing has 
happened, really. 

But they are late. And it is frustrating. 
No one seems to mind though. Madame 
Jojo's pit sways and grinds and wiggles. 



It s testament to Zombie-Zombie s unjerky 
approach to a set.Their seamless songs 
flow like a river. Detractors would call 
it 'samey'. Fans would call it dedication 
to a cause. It's certainly the latter, to 
a cause of gentle mind-altering and 
the following of a bleepy instinct. 
It couldn't be further from the cute 
folk of Neman's other band. He's clearly 
amanofeclectictastes.Amanwholikes 
squeaking like a dog while his buddy 
tweaks switches. 

They were late though. And it's late 
now. And it's fucking freezing outside. 
Tom Howard 



48 1 plan b 




A kind of 
inverse New 
Age music 





ghosts and the city 

Words: Frances Morgan 

Atilla Csihar photo: Mani Thomasson 

Howl Of The Owl/Raster-Noton.Ryhthm_ 
Screen at Club Transmediale 

Maria Am Ostbahnhof, Berlin 

In one room, light and movement- a lush 
but unforgiving digital palette that shifts and 
pulses as sonic data is cut and stretched with 
microscopic finesse; new and impersonal. 
In another, impermeable darkness: visceral 
drones that rise and fall in black waves from 
strings and amplifiers and cavernous throats. 

Except that music is never that simple, and 
there are more cross-currents here than CTM's 
bill at first makes apparent- the night as 
a whole is in fact exemplary of CTM's mission 
statementto explore electronic music in all 
its permutations. Both the avant-doom 
represented by tonight's Howl Of The Owl 
lineup and the ascetic techno of the Raster- 
Noton label work and re-work formulae 
of bass and space; and with more subtle 
configurings of alienation and human 
involvement than their surface signifiers 
of laptops or guitars imply. 

In the small space set aside for Raster- 
Noton's 'Rhythm Screen' (a light and mirror- 
based installation which responds to the 
patterns in the music), bodies are rammed, 
stopped from dancing only by the lack of 
space, and the feeling is of a party or ritual, 
albeit one trapped inside a Macbook. Byetone 
and SND's warm glitch-noise seems to burrow 
into the club's bunker-like walls, forming 
connections with the building's accumulation 
of human energy. Back in Maria Am 
Ostbanhof's main room, Swiss/Canadian 
quartet Monno mould drums, bass, treated 
sax and laptop-based electronics into stately, 
dense drones, punctuated with bass riffs and 
hard-to-place noise textures. It is not just the 
audio processing that renders their set slightly 



disconnected - like a few of their better- 
known contemporaries, Monno strip metal 
of its obvious personal content, treating it 
as sonic source material for manufacturing 
vast, almost post-human landscapes. When 
this works, it's sublime, but by sticking at scalp- 
squeezing volume throughout, Monno forego 
the dynamic subtlety that would make their 
riff monoliths all the more effective. 

Performing a new solo work for voice, 
Mayhem vocalist and SunnO))) collaborator 
Attila Csihar's candle-lit set is a welcome 
contrast, building from susurrant near-silence 
through overtones and growls into full- 
throated roars that, briefly, transform the club 
into a cathedral. Csihar's monkish cowl, along 
with the loop-based structure of the piece, 
enhances the impression that- like it or not- 
perhaps what we're all captivated by is a kind 
of inverse New Age music; the composition 
certainly has the feel of ambient or devotional 
recordings, and the black metal rasp is 
softened by the electronic repetitions. 
Many solo artists understandably depend 
on loop technology, but Csihar's voice might 
have been even more commanding without 
such a constant security blanket. At times, 
it feels like the sonic equivalent of thedry ice 
that surrounds headliners Aethenor, helmed 
by Stephen O'Malley and Guapo's Daniel 
O'Sullivan. Theirs is impressionistic, becalmed 
music that owes little to its heavy antecedents. 
O'Malley's minor-key riffs are softened by 
O'Sullivan's dreamlike keyboards, and the 
elegant, tensile drumming of veteran UK free- 
jazz percussionist, Steve Noble. 

The end of Csihar's set sends me scurrying 
to the Raster-Noton room, where fans of label 
founder Carsten Nicolai are crammed to hear 
what appears to be a live mix of his latest 
Alva Noto album Unitxt. Created out of data 
from non-musical applications, it takes on 
an unexpectedly anarchic playfulness when 
booming over Maria's quality system. 



But hopes of burrowing into the core of the 
sound are scotched by the crowd and the pull 
of the doom room, and I hover at the edge, 
the glee that tonight has been programmed 
with my brain chemistry in mind mixed with 
discomfort as two of my different listening 
personae confront one another, in real time, 
in a jam-packed doorway. 

It is down to Asva, the constantly questing 
group put together by O'Malley's old Burning 
Witch pals G Stuart Dahlquist and B.R.A.D to 
pull the strands together with momentum, 
volume and beauty. Tonight playing as a new 
lineup, and premiering a new set, Dahlquist's 
band seems tentative, revolving around his 
gestural, deceptively simple basslines with 
democracy and close listening. Their more 
fluid methodology suits the material well, 
in particular the surprisingly jazz-tinged 
drumming of Greg Gilmore-a brave move, 
following B.R.A.D's austere style. The frequent 
presence of keyboard is a logical progression 
from the organ-led pieces that figured so 
heavily on What You Don't Know Is Frontier, 
but there's much here that is fresh, not least 
when Dahlquist and guitarists Rick Troy and 
David Webb launch into a shared vocal around 
45 minutes in. Neither of the three have 
remarkable voices, and Asva's previous use 
of technically astounding singers like Jessika 
Kenny shines a harsh light on the performance 
- but the directness provides a welcome 
emotional jolt. If the word 'generosity' seems 
a sentimental one to describe the transaction 
between musician and audience, it is still the 
word that Asva's music prompts in me tonight, 
as the brain that's been buzzing overtime of 
late stills and is thankful before the twin 
offering of low-end power and graceful 
musicianship. A4am walk home, ears numb 
from volume and cold, reveals the busy city 
of Berlin to be at peace for once; its clicks, 
cuts and glitches cocooned for a while in 
snow-clouds of bass. 



plan b 1 49 




Man is 5, The Devil is 6 
Godis7,and$TRANGEWAYS 




PARTY TIME! 

20th March, Wire, Leeds, 1 0.30-3.30801, £3-£5 

DEVO-BURAKA-THE SOFT PACK-SONICS 

CRYSTAL STILTS-YO MAJESTY-ESG-DIPLO 



5.04.09 
Baba Yaqa's Hut presents 



LYDIA LUNCH 

TEENAGE JESUS - REANIMATED 
BIG SEXY NOISE - UNLEASHED 



The one and only chance to witness the corpse of 

as she unleashes her latest musical outrage 

Featuring 
James Johnston. Terry Edwards and Ian White 



7 30 pm 

£15 advance 



■urMLii htudioK 4/I5 L'k'phciril Ku.ul lundim ^c 17 III 
YHI 7701 A7iA\ uuu-.< 'fnw.Tt;lLidiu4.['4i.ni 
idtance tickets aval Libit from m-mAvefcoltkkels.i 



BABA 



Friday March 2U 
B.iba Yafla's Hut 



THE RITES OF SPRING 



feal wring five sels from 

Alexander Tucker, The Oscillation, The Fear, Kelpe 
The ( yt T[hhs Teeth yflhe Sea plus |}Js Cherrystones 
Musdeheads, James Dyer, Stuart Sourer 
9pm - late * \ 

lit kcis £t\ advance Sunday April 7Ah 

Baba Ya^'s Hut presents 

LYDIA LUNCH 

TEENAGE JESUS - REANIMATED 
BIG SEXY NOISE - UNLEASHED 
featuring lames Johnston, Terry Edwards and tan White 

7.30 pm 



ma&\ 



Wednesday May 13th 
Baba Yaga's Hut presents 

THE KILIMANJARO 
DARKJAZZ ENSEMBL 
SHINING and MOTHLITE 

7pm 

"advance 



Corsica si 
D2fl 7701 



^BABA 

, London 5E17 UB YAGA'S 



.hii.um l- ri< k*>N .n.iii.ink' in mi 



' 



Caroline Weeks 



Songs for Edna - CD/LP/Download 

Brand new album released on Manimal Vinyl Records 



7 March ~ Stoke Newington International Airport, Nl6 

London Poetry Festival 

1 1 April ~ The Westhill Hall, Brighton 

Brighton album launch show 

18 April ~ Cafe OTO, London, E8 

London album launch show 

1 2 April ~ Birmingham Town Hall, Birmingham 

Supporting Bat For Lashes 

1 3 April ~ The Junction, Cambridge 

Supporting Bat For Lashes 

15 April ~ Anson Rooms, Bristol 

Supporting Bat For Lashes 

16 April ~ The Corn Exchange, Brighton 

Supporting Bat For Lashes 

www.mvspace.com/carolineweeks 



DMP PRESENTS 



21H 




nt with ojtj'v 



THE 



WEDS 
1st APRIL 

Doors 7pm 

EflM KOKO 



f First Contact Agency^ 

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r PRESIDENTS £ 
UNITED STATES 



+ Botoie Peni 



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■ 04 april THE fUnUM 

Doors 7.30pm Box Office 0844 847 2405 kentishtownforum.com 



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TRRHSSLOBALl ^M 
UNDEMROUKDi 



THU 9th APRIL DREADZO. 

i\i.Mrt\w.\l I" SOUNDSYS 



THE HANGING ROPES 




DJ Killa KDJ 



TUE 28 APRIL 

K0K0 

Doors open 7.00pm 
www.koko.uk.com 



Promoting their new album 
EASY STAR'S LONELY | 
HEARTS DUB BAND! 

• • • out 14 April « 



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FRIDAY 27th MARCH 

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ticketweb.co.uk 08700 600100 

MONDAY 3rs6v*>°)£i*CH 

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EXTRA SHOW ADDED 

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THURSDAY 2nd APRIL 
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^ 


. \ 


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lWeekeml %oo» 



STIRLING'S NO LIMITS MUSIC FESTIVAL 



Broadcast 

Keith Rowe 

Carla Bozulich & Evangelista 

Eddie Marcon 

Adrian Utley 

NEW 

Dimension X 

Trio Arco 

Ghost Box/Julian House 

John Edwards 

Helene Breschand 

Rick Reed 

Drew Mulholland 

Trembling Bells 

Telescope 

Duck Baker Trio 

Bill Thompson 

Notes From The Underground 

Neil Davidson 

Clothes Line Saga Blues 



FOR 



PLUS SPECIAL GUESTS 

Sdhool of Seven Bells 










29, 30 & 31 May Tolbooth Stirling Scotland 
For tickets & a brochure, call 01786 27 4000- 

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& * 



LOTTERY FUNDED 




APRIL 

07 MANCHESTER RnZ 

0161 832 1111 

08 GLASGOW QMU 

08444 999 990 

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0191 263 5000 

11 LEEDS METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY 

0113 244 4600 

12 BIRMINGHAM TOWN HALL 

0121 780 3333 

PLEASE NOTE VENUE CHANGE 

13 CAMBRIDGE JUNCTION 

01223 511511 

15 BRISTOL ANSON ROOMS 

0870 444 4400 

16 BRIGHTON CORN EXCHANGE 

01273 709 709 

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| EXTRA DATE | 

19 LONDON 

SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE 

0844 477 2000 

24 HOUR TICKET HOTLINE: 0871 2200 260 
WWW.GIGSANDTOURS.COM 

NEW ALBUM 'TWO SUNS' OUT APRIL 6TH 
WWW.BATFORLASHES.COM 




Isosceles 

Duloks 

Ulvi! 

James Severy 

(Livd 

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fffal 




259 Upper Street, London, N1 

Nearest Tube: Highbury & Islington 
Entrance: £€/£$ Adv Tickets - We Got Tickets 

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$ 



dstrella Qamm 
PRIMAVERA 
SOUND'09 




ESTRELLADAMM PRIMAVERA SOUND 2009 FESTIVAL 
MAY 28th TO 30th. BARCELONA, PARC DEL FORUM. 

A-Trak, A Certain Ratio, Alela Diane, Andrew Bird, Angelo Spencer, Aphex Twin, Ariel Pink, Art Brut, The 
Bad Plus, Bat For Lashes, Black Lips, Bloc Party, Bowerbirds, The Bug, Carsick Cars, Crystal Antlers, 
Crystal Stilts, Cuzo, Chad VanGaalen, Damien Jurado, Dan Deacon Ensemble, Deerhunter, Dj Mehdi, The 
Drones, Ebony Bones, El-P, Extra Life, The Extraordinaires, Extraperlo, Fucked Up, Gang Gang Dance, 
Ghostface Killah, Girl Talk, Girls, Jarvis Cocker, Jason Lytle from Grondoddy, Jay Reatard, The Jayhawks, 
The Jesus Lizard, Joe Crepusculo y Los Destructores, Joe Henry, John Maus, Karl Blau, Kimya Dawson, 
Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Lemonade, Lightning Bolt, The Lions Constellation, The Mae Shi, Magik Markers, 
Magnolia Electric Co., Mahjongg, Marnie Stern, Michael Mayer, Michael Nyman, My Bloody Valentine, 
The New Year, Oneida, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Phoenix, Plants & Animals, Ponytail, Rosvita, 
The Secret Society, Shearwater, Shellac, Simian Mobile Disco, Skatebard, Sleepy Sun, The Soft Pack, 
Sonic Youth, Spectrum, Spiritualized, Squarepusher, Sunn 0))) performing "The Grimmerobe Demos", The 
Tallest Man On Earth, Throwing Muses, Uff ie, The Vaselines, Veracruz, Vivian Girls, Wavves, Women, 
Wooden Shjips, Yo La Tengo, Zombie Zombie... 



In collaboration with 



fjWi 



©Pitchfork 



www.atpfestival.com www.pitchforkmedia.com 

www.primaverasound.com and www.myspace.com/primaverasound 



Organized by 

PRIMAVERA 
SOUND, Q 



Main sponsor 



Official sponsor 



Media partner 
Y magazine 



Ticket saie 




IVIII \ VIH HIE Hlil II 
1 »H Alii: f'AMILl 

■■"TOJ 

IMILAII 



OK TOMt 

MARCH 

24th NOTTINGHAM RESCUE 

ROOMS 8pm doors £ 1 adv www.alt- 



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BACH 7.30pm doors £1 adv 



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7.30pm doors 1 6Eadv www.ticketmaster.ie 



29th GLASGOW ABC2 



31th BRIGHTON KOMEDIA 

8pm doors £10 adv www.ticketweb.co.uk 
01273 647100 



APRIL 

1st MANCHESTER MINT 

LOUNGE 8pm doors £10adv 



2nd LONDON SCALA 



7.30pm doors £10 adv 
08444 771 000 



wegottickets.com 



3rd BRISTOL ARNOLFINI 



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EAII 



4th COVENTRY TAYLOR 

JOHNS HOUSE 7.30pm doors £10 adv 



v.tinangelrecords. co.uk 



c.k. Torn 

fl^ . MAINlH/AIMIILcOt 

NEW OUT ON TIN ANGEL RECORDS 4TH MAY 

Devon Sproule 

iDon't Hurry For Heaven! 

When I reviewed Keep Your Silver Shined back in June, I didn't really expect 
it to become my constant companion, but it has. Compared to more cerebral 
singer-songwriter faves of mine like Laura Veirs and M ' "" 
more conventionally rooted in jazz, country and blues, bui, u»mmu, sue nan 
the best tunes and the most engaging voice. I caught her live show at St. 
Bonaventures in Bristol and it remains etched in my memory as one of the 
most enjoyable live qiqs I've seen. Watch this qirl soar. - THE GUARDIAN 



§) fotife 



iDON 
HURRY FOR 1 
HEAVT 



ON TOUR IN MAY 



May 1 st - 


Newtown,Theatr Hafren 


May 3rd -- 


Kilkenny, Rhythm & Roots Clubhouse 


May 4th - 


Kilkenny, Rhythm & Roots Clubhouse 


May 5th - 


Pontypridd, Uni Arts Centre 


May 6th - 


Cardigan, Theatre Mwldan 


May 7th - 


Pontardawe, Pontardawe Arts Centre 


May 8th - 


Blackwood, Miners Institute 


May 1 0th 


- Belfast, Black Box 


May 1 1th 


- Edinburgh, Voodoo Rooms 


May 14th 


i -- London, Shepherds Bush Empire 08444 77 2000 


May 1 6th 


- Glasgow, CCA 



\ 



OIKS 



survey of Dirty Projectors history reveals the 
kind of senseless, anarchic variety that often 
accompanies those ahead-of-the-curve innovators 
who can't quite hold their shit together. The discogra- 
phy ranges from Prince-style auteur studio produc- 
tion (The Glad Fact) to orchestrated song-cycle 
(Slaves' Graves and Ballads), from basic voice-and- 
acoustic-guitar plainsong to outre global rock music 
(Rise Above). What unites these wildly divergent 
approaches is Longstreth's voice - a searching, 
Plantesque instrument - and a kind of John Coltrane 
spirituality: an equation of honesty with innovation, 
and an insistence on the redemptive, ecstatic delight 
of challenge. myspace/dirtyprojectors 



POLAI: 



ear have earned a reputation as one of 
the most creative acts on the UK music scene. 
Their raw-boned, dramatic music mixes jazz with an 
electronic soundscape and a punk sensibility, under- 
pinned by break-beat and rock rhythms. Combined 
with their compelling contrapuntal melodies and 
driving energy it's a sound that has already won 
them critical acclaim and a devoted audience. 



cool school skills, and detonate the past, burstinc 
with edgy, forward-looking lust." Paul Morley, 
Observer Music Monthly 



www.polarbearmusic.com 



Tin Angel Records m 

The Tin Aneiel. Snon Street. ^*^ Coventrv Tel: 024 7655 9958 www.tina.nfirelramrds.on.uk ^^^^ 



The Tin Angel, Spon Street, ^*^ Coventry Tel: 024 7655 9958 www.tinangelreoords.oo.uk 



RECORDS 



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ARCHES 



Instalos 

Brave New Music 

20,21,22 March 
www.arika.org.uk 



INSTAL is an experimental music festival 
for people interested in un-average musical 
ideas and experiences. 

Acoustic laptops, circular singing, 
walkman solos, a no-input mixing desk, 
cello destruction, a feral choir, the natural 
frequency of the Arches... 

£10 day pass / £25 festival pass 
£10 accommodation offer 
Tickets from The Arches, Glasgow: 
www.thearches.co.uk/0141 565 1000 



LOTTERY FUNDED S 



©E 



' Esmee 

VRSFoundation Fairbairn 



austrian cultural forum' 

jg o/~Ghsgow 



4*\ 



CCA: VF°^* 



II GOETHE-INSTITUT 



taJLk 



euro 



. coob^ 

Media partners 



WIRE THE SKINNY 



barbican 



do something different 



Tue 10 Mar 7.30pm 

Jerry Dam 
Spatial A.K. /C 
Orchestra 

Cosmic Engineering — a tribute to 
Sun Ra and other musical mavericks 

Singer/songwriter Jerry Dammers (founder of The 
Specials and the 2 Tone record label) and his 18-piece 
orchestra pay tribute to the cosmic jazz of Sun Ra anc 
Alice Coltrane, Coxsone Dodd, Martin Denny 



and more. 



'Triumphant. Glorious. 

Produced by Barbican in Association with Serious. 
Part of EAST 

Tickets from £10 
www.barbican.org.uk/con. 




live previe 



now booking: 
instal 2009 

Interview: Lauren Strain 

Who are you most looking forward 
to seeing perform this year? 

"Seymour Wright investigates 
the possibilities of the saxophone by 
taking it apart, vibrating it with radios, 
or stuffing beer cans down the bell. 
Taku Unami is an ultra-minimalist 
acoustic laptop artist who uses custom- 
built software to set off motors and 
beaters on top of a resonant wooden 
board. Nikos Veliotis records every note 
that it's possible to play on the cello as 
a one-hour drone and then plays back 
all of them at the same time while the 
cello that was played for the recording 
process - which took two months - is 
turned to powder and bottled. Lastly, 
Ultra-red make field recordings of 
specially selected locations in Glasgow. 



for a day-long performance/discussion 
between activists and organisers, artists 
and communities to identify a possible 
action to effect actual change in people's 
situations in Glasgow." 

What do you feel each of these 
artists, while working across 
different mediums, have in 
common with each other? 

"I'd say that we've tried to put 
together a festival that is broad, so that 
lots of people can find different ways in. 
But it does also have themes running 
through it. So much of contemporary 
music is about intense emotional 
severity, noise and high-energy; there 
are some great festivals and venues 
putting on this kind of stuff. We thought 



other end of the spectrum: things that 
are considered, sparse, quiet and silent, 
which can be equally as challenging. 
We're also really into text sound/ 
concrete poetry/vocal improvisation, 
so that's another theme." 

Phil Minton's feral choir 
(above) sounds like a highlight. 
Can you tell us about this project? 

"Phil is one of the great abstract 
vocalists of the last 30 years. We have 
some amazing vocal performances each 
day at the festival, from the landmark 
concrete poetry of Steve McCaffery to 
the great Joan La Barbara. Phil's project 
works with people who've never sung 
before, or who have certainly not 
improvised vocally before, and gives 
them the confidence and tools to 



perform live. It's one of the most 
democratic musical projects I can 
think of." 

Hermann Nitsch's work 
is extremely powerful and 
disturbing, and I'm particularly 
interested to know what drew 
you to him. 

"It's not just that Hermann Nitsch's 
work as a whole might be disturbing; 
I think you have to think about his 
interest in ritual, in something like 
the ethics of religion and sacrifice. 
It's existential, and maybe to do with 
our culture's fixation on violence; 
in books, films, video games. His 
performances and actions regularly 
involve slaughtered and crucified animal 
carcasses, blood and fruit and people 
bound, gagged and directly involved 
in all the blood and quts. But there's 



an ecstasy in it all too; is that uneasy 
or unapologetic, or both/neither? 

And it's all centred around his music: 
blocks of maximal sound, inspired by 
great composers of the past but passed 
through a filter of lust, rot and death, 
poison and madness, fragrance and 
temperature, fluid and excess. At Instal 
he'll be performing a new musical piece 
for organ. You don't need to know how 
he's one of the great performance and 
visual artists of the 20th Century to get 
what he does musically." 

Have any of the artists' 
exhibitions/performances 
been specifically commissioned 
for Instal? 

"There'll be performances, talks, 
readings, workshops and community 
activism with Ultra-red: all kinds of stuff, 
but no exhibitions this year. Having said 
that, there are quite a few collaborations 
or performances that we've worked 
up with musicians: from Rolf Julius' 
performed installation (tiny vibrating 
speakers buried in earth, pigment, ash) 
to new collaborations between 
like-minded musicians, such as the 
ultra-minimalist performance by Radu 
Malfattijaku Unami, Sean Meehan 
and Klaus Filip that we'll be presenting 
on the Sunday." 
(Barry Esson, festival organiser) 

Instal melds minds, bends ears and 
opens eyes with a carefully-assembled 
array of musicians and innovators 
operating on the frontier of the 
avant-garde. See www.arika.org.uk 
for more information. 
GlasgowThe Arches (March 20-22) 



extra life 

Plan Bare pleased to support Zorn/ 
Branca collaborator and sometime 
Dirty Projector Charlie Looker as 
he brings his New York ensemble 
to these shores for the first time - 
a jaunt that coincides with the 
rerelease of their fine debut album, 
Secular Works, on Lo Recordings. 
"Something akin to Rise Above as 
performed by a minstrel jigging for 
the delight of a portly king consuming 
a plate of chicken drumsticks-" 1 " 
added HEAVY" we wrote, last niui in i. 
More dates announced imminently. 
London Scala (w/Deerhunter, 
May 18) 



af rica oye festival 

"Free. . . freeeee. ..!" No, the needle 
isn't stuck on Livin' Joy; this, possibly 
the largest festival of African music in 
the UK, is just utterly gratuit. Aside from 
the musical entertainments, there'll be 
book and craft stalls, fashion and textile 
exhibitions, face-painting, puppet-making 
and beadwork workshops. 
Liverpool Sefton Park (June 20, 21) 

all tomorrow's parties vs the 
fans part II: the fans strike back 

So here's how it happens: you buy your 
tickets, and then you get a chance to vote 
for who should play. See what they did 
there? Chosen by the festival organisers 
(and for you to go head to head with) so far: 
Spiritualized, Grails, Sleep, Young Marble 
Giants - performing Colossal Youth in 
full - Shearwater, The Cave Singers and 
plantpot dudes Devo. You? You're wanting 
Beirut, and Flight Of The Conchords. 
I'm with you on the latter. 
Minehead Butlins Holiday Camp 
(May 8-10) 

all tomorrow's parties 

The second instalment for May, curated 
by The Breeders and so seeing blood old 
(the reformation of Throwing Muses, 
Shellac, Gang Of Four) and new (Holy Fuck, 
Deerhunter, Foals). 
Minehead Butlins Holiday Camp 
(May 15-1 7) 



Trippy psychedelia from the expanding 
American hermits. 
Cardiff Buffalo Bar (April 28), 
Barrow-in-Furness The Canteen 
(May 2), Glasgow Captain's 
Rest (3), Edinburgh Bowery (4), 
York City Screen Basement (5), 
London Lexington (6) 

bat for lashes 

Natasha Khan brings her princess' glitter 
and madrigal's sorcery back out from 
the shadows; will months of writing and 
hibernation have seen an end to her wilful 
mysticism and obsession with horses? 
Or will she be much the same? See 
for yourself... 

Manchester Ritz (April 7), 
Northumbria University (9), 
Leeds Metropolitan University (11), 
Birmingham Town Hall (1 2), Oxford 
Regal (13), Bristol University (15), 
Brighton Corn Exchange (16), 
London Empire (17) 



the wave pictures 

DaveTattersall's clatter-bang trio 
herald the arrival of their new album, 
If You Leave It Alone, the follow-up 
to last year's sleeper hit Instant Coffee 
Baby, with a gallop 'round the country 
in a clapped-out van, smiles aloft 
and guitars a-quiver. Their acerbic, 
observational songwriting is in a 
class of its own;Tattersall has a way 
of making songs about chutney and 
chocolate reduce the most aloof of 
indie kids to a lumpy mush of tears. 
Tour support comes from Planet Earth, 
a winsome twosome inspired by the 
small things in life. 
Reading TBC (April 3), York City 
Screen Basement (6), Cambridge 
The Soul Tree (7), Nottingham 
Rescue Rooms (9), Manchester 
Roadhouse (10), Leeds Brudenell 
Social Club (11), Cardiff Buffalo Bar 
(1 2), Bristol Thekla (1 3), Brighton 
Freebutt (1 4), London ICA (1 5) 



andrew bird 

Whimsical multi-instrumentalist 
brings bewildering paeans from latest 
album Noble Beastlo the stage. 
Bristol Thekla (May 10), London 
Shepherd's Bush Empire (11), 
Manchester Academy 2 (1 3), 
Glasgow Oran Mor (14) 

bob log lllrd 

Strange man performs oddities from latest 
(charmingly titled) album My Shit Is Perfect. 
Bristol The Lanes (April 1), Canterbury 
The Farm House (2), Birmingham Cold 
Ride (3), Liverpool Class A Audio (4), 
Newcastle The Cluny (5), Sheffield 
The Shakespeare (6), Brighton Engine 
Room (7), London 100 Club (8) 

bonnie 'prince' billy 

Gather 'round for storytelling and 
oak-smoked wisdom courtesy of one 
Will Oldham. 
London Royal Festival Hall (April 20) 

british wildlife festival III 

This festival features not a parliament 
of owls, a smack of jellyfish nor a 
mob of kangaroos, but an array of homo 
sapiens; specifically, weird noise maestros 
sitting neatly in that most compelling of 
genres, the unclassifiable. Organised by 
Leeds promoters Cops And Robbers, the 
line-up boasts Thomas Truax, Plaaydoh, 
AlexanderTucker, Cowtown, Dethscalator, 
Hey Panda andTeeth ! ! ! There'll also be 
a gallery of local gig poster art to peruse, 
arts and crafts to buy and photography 
to muse 'pon. Best of all, it's a steal at just 
over a tenner for two days. 
Leeds Brudenell Social Club and Royal 
Park Cellars (March 28, 29) 

the broken family band 

Happy-clappy country rock. 

Glasgow ABC2 (March 6), 

Leeds Brudenell Social Club (April 23), 

Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire (24), 

Newcastle The Cluny (25), Nottingham 

Rescue Rooms (26), London Scala 

(May 7), Manchester Ruby 

Lounge (8), Bristol Thekla (9), Brighton 

Hanbury Ballroom (10), Cambridge 

The Junction (16) 



56 1 plan b 



"*'-.' 



live preview 



ether 2009 

String of specially commissioned events featuring the return of mouthy Ms Peaches, 
Royksopp, Vitalic, Fennesz, Rosy Parlane, CM Von Hausswolff, Squarepusher and BLK 
JKS-oh,and Brian Eno and John Hassell's Conversation Piece, film screenings at the 
British Film Institute, free and impromptu gigs and, uh, beatboxing talks. Would that 
be howto beatbox, or talks given entirely via impressions of drumkits? Either way, 
it sounds like something you want to be involved with. 
London Southbank Centre (April 9-24) 



the camden crawl 

Expect endemic queues and take your 
oldest, skankiest pair of shoes - Camden 
High Street is sure to become one monstrous 
stream of vomit. Again. 
London various venues (April 24, 25) 

camp bestival 

PJ Harvey is headlining ! PJ Harvey is 
headlining! And apparently she's not gonna 
be playing anywhere else, y'hear? Y'hear? 
Other musical entertainments include 
that fragile lad Bon Iver and daydreamers 
Mercury Rev, but personally I'm most excited 
about Hugh Feamley-Whittingstall giving 
a River Cottage workshop, where you'll 
be able to learn how to gut a fish and stuff 
it with plums and 795 uses forthe humble 
beetroot. That's truly where it's at. 
Dorset Lulworth Castle (July 23-26) 

crystal antlers 

Crystals, the vogue jewel of the moment, 
have been harnessed by these Californian 
antlers and they're a-gallopin' towards 
you NOW. 

London White Heat (March 10), 
Sheffield The Harley(11) f Manchester 
Retro Bar (12) 

daedelus 

Nicking (and misspelling) his name from 
Greek mythology, Daedelus is a proponent 
of off-kilter compositions. Few people merge 
classical meanderings with sexy, seductive 
dub-conscious beats like this man. 
Guildford Boileroom (March 16), 
London Hoxton Bar And 
Kitchen (1 7), London Scala (1 8), 
Leeds Brudenell Social Club (20), 
Nottingham Stealth (21), 
Brighton Freebutt (22) 

das wanderlust 

Splinter-sharp at times, cutesy at others, 
Das Wanderlust are the band that opted 
for twee - only to take it home, hack it 
to pieces and mix it into a lumpy pie. 
Preston Mad Ferret (April 1 7), 
Manchester Fuel (18), Middlesbrough 
TBC(May13) 

deerhunter 

This spring's ATP's are looking more 
and more like 4AD love-ins with each 
day's passing. An alluring prospect, yes: 
Georgian five-piece Deerhunter, who've 
kept a re/af/Ve/yhemmed-in profile 
since their formation back in 2001, 
are finally making it big. Expect lots of 
hazy, thrashy, passionate indie-rock 
(with a heart). 

Minehead Butlins Holiday Camp 
(May 1 6), London Scala (1 8), 
Manchester The Deaf Institute (19), 
Glasgow Stereo (20), Belfast 
Black Box (21), Dublin Whelan's (22) 
Liverpool City Sound Festival (23), 
Leeds Brudenell Social Club (24), 
Brighton Audio (25) 



angela desveaux 

Thrill Jockey darling enchants. 

Hull Adelphi (April 26), Cambridge 

The Portland Arms (28) 

dot to dot festival 

Now streamlined to spend just one day in 
each city, Dot To Dot has championed the 
likes of Santogold and Klaxons in previous 
years. Early bird tickets are long gone, so 
nab yours now (or consider yourself firmly 
out of the know). 

Bristol various venues (May 23), 
Nottingham various venues (24) 

mattelliott 

Songs of redemption, songs of rebellion 
from man with bewitching guitar. 
Highly recommended. 
London Barden's Boudoir (April 2) 

exit festival 

You might have to go all the way to Serbia, 
but you get to shake your booty inside 
a FORTRESS. It's an atmospheric place; 
one minute you're stumbling down narrow 
cobbled corridors, the next you're flying 
high in the dance arena as the sun rises 
over the ramparts. This is the festival's tenth 
anniversary; while line-up details are yet to 
be released we're sure it'll be celebratory. 
Serbia Novi Sad (July 9-1 2) 

experimental dental school 

Oh, the images that conjures. You wouldn't 
volunteer to be a patient, would you? Even 
if it was in the name of furthering man's 
knowledge of surgery, or whatever. 
Cardiff Buffalo Bar (May 5), London 
The Dome (9), Oxford Jericho 
Tavern (10), GlasgowTBC (11), 
ManchesterTBC(12) 

field day 

Mogwai headline the third instalment of 
the now-notorious festival, along with 
appearances from FourTet, Fennesz, 
Malcolm Middleton and, whoops! Errors. 
London Victoria Park (August 1) 

franzferdinand 

Scots indie-poppers remain haughty and 
aloof, snickering through skittish anthems. 
Birmingham Academy (March 8), 
London Hammersmith Apollo (9) 

f uturesonic festival 

Unifying music, digital culture and modern 
thought through performances, exhibitions 
and seminars, Futuresonic is now something 
of a Mancunian institution. 2009's bill is 
yet to be announced but should be another 
utterly enlightening affair, comrade. You can 
purchase individual tickets for separate gigs, 
but we highly recommend procuring a pass 
that allows entry to most, instead; plus, there 
are always a few free ones scattered about 
the city (gigs, that is, not passes). 
Manchester various venues 
(May 13-16) 



now booking: 
fuse 2009 

Efterklang interview: 
Lauren Strain 

One of the main 
themes of Leeds' 
upcoming Fuse 
festival seems to be 
getting musicians 
to work outside 
of their comfort 
zones. You recently 
performed your 
album Parades 
with the The Danish 
National Chamber 
Orchestra; was 
the experience 
of re-writing 
and adapting 
the already 
existing music a 
difficult one? 

"It was a very 
challenging and quite 
overwhelming project. 
We learned many things along 
the way and are very happy that 
we now have another chance to 
perform this new score for Parades. 
We worked with Karsten Fundal, a 
Danish composer. No one in Efterklang 
has received a proper education in music, 
so working with him and his 50-piece 
orchestra was like a form of education." 

"The new score is not radically 
different from that on the album. 
But the main difference is the fact that 
every single thing is played live in one go, 
while we originally spent 1 8 months in 
a studio making Parades layer on layer. 
To play this out live is a very, very strong 
feeling. While we were making the 
album we were thinking of how great 
something like this could be, but we 
considered it an impossible dream." 

Did you feel that this 
performance was in some way 
a culmination of your years 
together as a band? 

"We definitely feel that. It marks 
the perfect closure of Parades and 
all of the touring and activities that 
followed it. There are many other 
highlights in our career that we all 
remember, but this project is by far 
the biggest. Back in 2005 we played 
concerts outside Denmark for the 
first time and this last year we have 
toured in the USA and China. It is 
always special when you enter new 
territories; it makes you feel that you 
are moving forward. We are living 
an enriching life." 

Your Rumraket label is home 
to some very respectable names 
including Grizzly Bear and amiina. 
What drew you to each of these 
bands/artists? 

"We like music that somehow 
explores new fields or sounds. We think 
that all the artists on our label are very 
different compared to each other and 
that makes us proud. Efterklang has 
always been about combining elements 
from many different directions." 

When you're composing, 
do you tend to see your music 
visually? Will you have certain 




images in your head that you 
want to evoke? Or does the 
music come first...? 

"We see music very visually. 
Often we will use images when we are 
explaining the idea for a song to each 
other or when debating how to develop 



of communicating about music. But 
recently we have been focussing more 
on grooves and hooklines! " 

Where do you feel most at 
home on tour? 

" For us, it always about the people. 
We like places with lots of friendly people 
and we are happy that we're lucky 
enough to often see ourselves in those 
places! From all our travels we have 
learned that even in the most depressed 
countries or political shitholes you 
can find very friendly people who care 
about each other and music. It seems 
that the further we get from Denmark 
the more mysterious we are. This suits 
us well. It is nice to be mysterious while 
sunbathing and drinking Coronas." 

Do you have any special plans 
for your performance at Fuse? 
What can we expect? 

"We really hope it will be magical. 
If everything falls into place between 
the festival audience and the Britten 
Sinfonia and Efterklang, then we know 
it will be great. The concept of the 
concert is that the two orchestras 
will merge into one." 
(Mads Brauer and 
Rasmus Stolberg) 

Leeds' Fuse festival explores 
new musical horizons through 
specially commissioned works and 
unexpected collaborations. The 
festivities will begin with Fusillage, 
a series of church bell peals composed 
by Gavin Bryars and Colleen. 
Manchester's chamber ensemble 
Psappha will perform original works 
by Leafcutter John, Paul Farrington 
and Amenity Space while Efterklang 
perform their album Parades with 
the Britten Sinfonia. Keep a beady eye 
on www.fuseleeds.com for more. 



plan b | 57 




now booking: 
frightened rabbit 

Interview: Reena Makwana 

Hello, what are you up to? 

" I am fully ensconsed in a very 
comfortable bed. The past few days have 
been fun, aside from the terrifyingly 
turbulent flight back from New York. 
I am glad I'm not dead." 

You've recently played a sold 
out Bowery Ballroom to great 
acclaim; would you say you have 
been better received in the US 
than the UK? How does that 
contrast feel? 

"I'd love for us to be popular in the 
UK, but aside from Scotland, there aren't 
that many people who care all that much 
over here. I'm happy that I get to see 
the US at least three times a year though. 
Everything's simpler for us over there, 
because our tours bring in reasonable 
amounts of cash. I live on bread and 
cheese when I'm touring the UK." 

How have you felt when you've 
been there recently- is there a 
tangible sense of excitement of 
expectation, in the US right now? 

"We were in the USA for the 
Democratic race, the election night 
and the inauguration. Playing a show 
in DC the night before Obama was sworn 
in was quite unforgettable." 

What are the biggest contrasts 
you notice between the UK and 
the US? 

"There is an unfailing confidence 
that most Americans seem to have. They 
are a lot more comfortable in their own 
skin than we are, and self deprecation 
isn't too common there." 

What do you feel is the most 
exciting thing about working 
in/exploring new music right now? 
Is there anyone you'd want to 
collaborate with? 

"I actually had a dream thatTunde 
from TV On The Radio was driving us 
on our tour. Maybe he wouldn't be into 
that collaboration, though he was 
apparently getting paid $1 per mile. 
Outrageous. Recently on tour we've 



been listening toTakkaTakka, Lykki Li, 
Nigerian highlife, Arc In Round, Right On 
Dynamite, The Twilight Sad and We Were 
Promised Jetpacks." 

Do you think it will continue 
to be possible for people to eke 
a living from the music business? 

"We've never really made a living 
from this. I don't have an apartment to 
live in and I really don't buy anything 
other than food and guitar strings, so 
it's a simple enough life. I will always 
make music, and I want to keep releasing 
it too, but there may come a time when 
people stop caring." 

What've been your absolute 
high points - or low points? 

"I feel like packing it in at least three 
times a week, but it's an empty threat. 
The high points seem to keep coming. 
Our last night in Chicago was ridiculous. 
Two shows in the same venue in one 
night. Both of them were memorable 
in different ways. The excitement in the 
room was unbelievable. It totally caught 
me by surprise." 

Where've you been that's 
had the best attitude to life? 
And the worst? 

"Scotland. The mixture of joy and 
misery is quite unique. Scots manage 
to form one out of the other. I guess that 
means we have the happiest, yet shittiest 
places available on earth, and both 
of those are excellent in equal measure." 

What's inspiring you now? 

" I suppose I've felt quite lonely 
on a lot of the tours. That's been quite 
informative. But I'm generally much 
happier now than I used to be. I'm going 
to tackle the brighter side of life next." 
(Scott Hutchison) 

Frightened Rabbit do their wide-eyed 
tremble at the following locations on 
the following days. 
Newcastle The Castle Keep 
(March 26), Barrow-in-Furness 
Canteen (27), Leicester The 
Musician (29), Birmingham Glee 
Club (30), Glasgow Captain's 
Rest (31), Dublin Academy 2 
(April!), London Scala (15) 



antony and the Johnsons 

This is Antony Hegarty's first full tour 
oftheUKsince 2005 (minus his 
pre-Christmas shows with the LSO 
at the Barbican last year), and it 
promises to yield dark powers: new 
album, The Crying Light, is a jet and 
opal opus; "The embodiment of nature 
is perpetual," wrote Petra Davis in Plan 
B#40. "The barrier between the self 
and the world is dismantled. Limbs 
become water, leaves become eyes, 
sunlight becomes crystalline". 
Brighton Dome (May 21), 
Birmingham Symphony 
Hall (22), Bristol Colston Hall (23), 
London Hammersmith Apollo (27), 
Gateshead The Sage (29), 
Belfast Waterfront (June 1), 
Edinburgh Playhouse (4) 



the great escape festival 

Like the Camden Crawl's prettier, sexier 
little sister, where you're by the sea, it's 
warm and there are (thankfully) fewer 
people. We're such antisocial beggars. 
Make a beeline for the Plan B stage 
where you can catch Mamie Stern, Micachu, 
Vivian Girls andThe Pains Of Being Pure 
At Heart all on one stage in quick succession; 
elsewhere, Esser, Ben Kweller, Future Of 
The Left, and Passion Pit make it a weekend 
to remember. 
Brighton venues (May 14-16) 

the green man festival 

No one has been confirmed as part of the 
leafy haven's line-up just yet, but the 
early bird tickets have all sold out so you'd 
better be at yer buzzers for the next round. 
Wales Glanusk Park (August 21-23) 

hauschka 

Expansive lateral thinker Hauschka is 
an enigmatic experimentalist who tinkers 
with the piano to glorious effect (see his 
latest record Snowflakes And Carwrecks 
for proof). For prepared strings and clattering 
keys, look no further. 

Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion (March 1 2), 
Reading South Street Arts Centre 
(13), London Queen Elizabeth Hall (20), 
London Union Chapel (27) 

HEALTH 

Maximal slams of death disco. 
Brighton Prince Albert (April 1 3), 
London Tufnell Park Dome (1 5), 
Dublin Whelan's (17), Belfast 
The Menagerie (18), Glasgow 
Stereo (19), Manchester The 
Deaf Institute (22) 

midori hirano 

Kyoto-born artiste celebrates the virtues 

of the computer. 

London Barden's Boudoir (March 25) 

the island 50 festival 

Yep, it's 50 years since Island Records' 
conception. So they're having a party. 
Aw. Home to PJ Harvey, Portishead and, 
urn, a few others, they're teaming up 
with label founder Chris Blackwell to 
sprout archival films, documentaries, 
photography, artwork and the obligatory 
live music. 

London Shepherd's Bush Empire 
(May 4-10) 



bloc 2009 

So surely there's no time for anyone 
to actually go and have a family holiday 
at Butlins anymore. Festivals have 
taken up residency; and this 
one's aimed precisely at the 
insomniacs among you, with a line-up 
featuring Skream, Benga, Lee 'Scratch' 
Perry, Ulrich Snauss, Metro Area, Carl 
Craig, Future Sound Of London, our 
favourite cat Jamie Lidell, creature 
of the night Arabian Prince and, oh, 
so much more. 

Minehead Butlins Holiday Camp 
(March 13-15) 



it hugs back 

Drenched in dreamy layers of lacquered 
production, these guys- who, I'd imagine, 
shun houses for padding aimlessly through 
meadows - have charmed 4AD into giving 
them a home. Let them worked their skewed 
indie magic upon you. 

Leeds Brudenell Social Club (March 1), 
London Lexington (12), Bristol 
Cooler (21) 

jean michel jarre 

Excuse my slip into internet-speak, would 
you? But, as they say in cyberspace: "OMG ! " 
London Wembley Arena (May 22), 
Manchester Evening News Arena (23), 
Birmingham NIA (24) 

le weekend 

Stirling's very best festival disagrees with 
boundaries and limits; this year, the line-up 
is all about freedom and exploration, with 
appearances from Carla Bozulich and 
Evangelista, Broadcast, Trembling Bells, 
Keith Rowe and spadefuls more. 
Stirling Tolbooth (May 29-31) 

the lexie mountain boys 

Enchanting chanteuses from Baltimore make 
feral noise and yip-jump vocals together, 
exploring the capacities of the human voice 
box in thrilling, naughty fashion. 
Brighton Greenhouse Effect (April 29), 
Nottingham Chameleon (May 1) 

micachu and the shapes 

Beautiful bungled miscellany from London's 
new favourite sprog. She's just been signed 
to Rough Trade, y'know. 
Glasgow Captain's Rest (March 25), 
Edinburgh Sneaky Pete's (26), Bristol 
Croft (28), Sheffield Harley (29), 
Nottingham Bodega (30), Manchester 
The Deaf Institute (31), Liverpool 
Korova (April 1), Brighton Freebutt (3), 
Southampton Lennons (4), Reading 
Oakford Social Club (7), Cardiff Buffalo 
Bar (8), London Fabric (9), Dorset 
Lulworth Castle (July 26) 

morrissey 

Hey, old timer; welcome home, and all that. 
Whose is that baby, huh? 
Liverpool Empire (May 10), London 
Royal Albert Hall (11), Birmingham 
Symphony Hall (13), Great Yarmouth 
Britannia Pier (1 5), Cambridge Corn 
Exchange (16), Hull Arena (19), 
Hartlepool Borough Hall (20), 
Manchester Apollo (22, 23), Salisbury 
City Hall (25), London Mile EndTroxy 
Ballroom (26), London Brixton 
Academy (28, 30) 



58 1 plan b 



^* 



af rican rebels tour: extra golden, baaba maal 
and Oliver mtukudzi 

Extra Golden's new record Thank You Very Quicklyls 
a vibrant, colourful celebration of overcoming adversity; 
witness them join euphoric forces with Senegalese 
vocalist/guitarist Baaba Maal and Zimbabwean artist 
Oliver Mtukudzi's frenetic, optimistic pop. Let them instil 
you with a renewed sense of hope, of coming together 
and counting blessings. 
Gateshead The Sage (March 3), Liverpool 
Philharmonic (4), Manchester Bridgewater Hall (6), 
Poole Lighthouse (7), Brighton Dome (8), London 
Roundhouse (9), Northampton Royal And 
Derngate (1 1 ), Basingstoke The Anvil (1 2), 
Leicester De Montfort Hall (13), Warwick 
Arts Centre (14) 



live pre vu 



■ -**• *5j 



nadja 

Toronto's Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff 
bring doom, but no dearth of beauty. 
Cardiff Buffalo (March 20), Leeds 
Brudenell Social Club (21), 
London Barden's Boudoir (22) 

noah and the whale 

Ahh, they're the nation's new favourite 
set of dandies, apparently; all bedecked in 
blue and yellow waistcoats with monacles 
(singing sprightly, chart-bothering folk-pop). 
Practice your moves to 'Five Years' Time'. 
Norwich UEA (March 5), London 
Shepherd's Bush Empire (6), Brighton 
St George's Church (7), Manchester 
Academy 2 (8), Gateshead The 
Sage (10), Edinburgh Queens 
Hall (11), Leeds Metropolitan 
University (1 2), Birmingham Town 
Hall (1 3), Bristol Academy (1 5), 
Nottingham Trent University (1 6) 

palimpsest festival 

Atruly spiritual gathering within four 
holy walls that sees Chris Corsano's 
Vibracathedral Orchestra create unnerving 
'scapes alongside Herb Diamante, John 
Clyde-Evans, Group Doueh and one of our 
'Next Wave 2009' groups of choice, Part 
Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides. There'll 
be whacked-out DJing from the likes of 
Sublime Frequencies, and, naturally, all 
manner of ways to fill your brains with illicit 
ideas.Tickets will be available from April 3, 
fromwww.palimpsest-festival.co.uk 
Cambridge All Saints Church (May 30) 

peter, bjorn and John 

The trio behind that hit with Victoria 
Bergsman (don't whistle it, please 
don't whistle it). 
London Scala (March 5), 
Manchester Academy (6), Dublin 
The Button Factory (7) 

planet earth 

Two boys named Sam and Nick met; lo and 
behold, a collection of lilting, literary and 
avuncular ditties were created. Debut single 
'Bergman Movies' is out via Young And Lost 
Clubsoon. 

London Old Queen's Head 
(March 1 5), London 93 Feet East (1 7), 
Reading tbc (April 3), York City 
Screen Basement (6), Cambridge 
The Soul Tree (7), Nottingham Rescue 
Rooms (9), Manchester Roadhouse 
(10), Leeds Brudenell Social Club (11), 
Cardiff Buffalo Bar (1 2), Bristol Thekla 
(1 3), Brighton The Freebutt (1 4), 
London ICA (15) 



ponytail 

There's always 
much fun to be had 
aboard Ponytail's 

clatter-wagon; jump on and cling for yer 
life all the way back to Baltimore. 
Brighton Audio (March 7), Bristol Start 
The Bus (8), Cardiff Tommy's Bar (9), 
Dublin Whelan's (11) 

shearwater 

Jonathan Meiburg's elegiac group make 
your heart swoon and the tears swarm 
with renditions from latest album, Rook. 
London The Forum (May 8), London 
Union Chapel (12) 

shooting spires 

Brooklyn posse tackle "the sweet embrace 
of agoraphobia and insomnia", so they 
say; calm yourselves for a night of 
musical healing. 

London Madame Jo Jo's (March 3), 
Manchester Retro Bar (4), Dublin 
Thomas Reads (5), Cork The Quad (6) 

short circuit festival 

A delectable selection of electronica and 
avant-garde composition is ready to caress 
yer lobes; main events include Holger Czukay 
playing previously unheard Can material, 
Barcelona's Sonar festival curating an 
afternoon, Philip JeckandThe Gavin Bryars 
Ensemble colliding head-on and the BBC 
RadiophonicWorkshop getting together 
to explore the past and future thru live 
performance and multimedia projections. 
London Roundhouse (May 14-1 7) 

shred yr face tour part ii 

The Bronx, Fucked Up and RoloTomassi 
are the ones doing the business on yer face 
this time, so it'll a bit more hardcore than 
last year's relatively fey outing of No Age, 
Los Campesinos! andTimes New Viking. 
Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach (March 2), 
Nottingham Rescue Rooms (3), 
London Electric Ballroom (4), 
Brighton Concorde 2 (5), Birmingham 
Academy (6) 

sons of noel and adrian 

Earthy group folk. 
London The Wilmington Arms 
(April 23), ManchesterTBC (24), 
GlasgowThe Classic Grand (25), 
Newcastle The End (26), Cardiff Buffalo 
Bar (27), Bristol The Mother's Ruin (28), 
Falmouth Miss Peapod's (29), 
WinchesterThe Railway (30), 
Canterbury Orange Street Music Club 
(May 1), Brighton Pavilion Theatre (2) 



i 



sublime 
frequencies 

All herald the first ever 

Sublime Frequencies tour, 

featuring two of the 

label/collective's fixtures, 

Group Doueh -all the way from the Western 

Sahara - and Omar Souleyman of Syria plus, 

on most dates, Sublime Frequencies DJs , 

film screenings and talks. Dates are yet to 

be confirmed, but keep a blinky eye on 

www.sublimefrequencies.com 

Venues and dates tbc (May 20-30) 

supersuckers 

The self proclaimed "greatest rock and 
roll band in the world" drop by for a fairly 
extensive jaunt. 

London ULU (April 11), Brighton 
Concorde 2 (1 2), Southampton Brook 
(1 3), Bristol Thekla (14), Swansea 
TBC (1 5), Birmingham Barfly (1 6), 
Manchester Club Academy (1 7), 
Newcastle Academy 2 (1 8), Glasgow 
ABC (1 9), Belfast Limelight (20), 
Wrexham Central Station (23), 
York Duchess (24), Nottingham 
Rescue Rooms (25) 

vessels 

Leeds' proggy gems get vetted by Rock 
Sound, score tour! 
Preston Mad Ferret (April 2), 
Cambridge The Portland Arms (3), 
Leeds Brudenell Social Club (4), 
Glasgow Captain's Rest (7), Newcastle 
The End (8), Edinburgh Sneaky Pete's 
(9), Reading Oakford Social Club (1 2), 
London Buffalo Bar (22), Cardiff 
Buffalo Bar (23), Barrow-in-Furness 
The Canteen (24), Manchester The 
Royal Oak (25), Brighton Prince Albert 
(27), Leeds Fuse Festival (29) 

the virgins 

Wouldn't you like to get your mitts on some 
of the creative juices released into the waters 
around New York recently? Yet another band 
to emerge from that same gene pool, these 
guys probably aren't as innocent and nubile 
as their moniker might suggest. . . 
London Koko (March 27), Brighton 
Digital (April 1 4), Bristol Thekla (1 5), 
Manchester Ruby Lounge (1 6), 
Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire (17), 
Glasgow King Tuts (18), Newcastle The 
Cluny (20), Birmingham Rainbow (21), 
Leeds Cockpit (22), London Heaven 
(23), Belfast Speakeasy (26) 



dirty projectors/polar bear/lucky dragons 

An Arts Council-sponsored tour, in which 
nu-jazz impresarios Polar Bear make friends 
with Plan B favourites Dirty Projectors (whose 
new record is in the pipeline as I type) and 
ritualistic mystics Lucky Dragons. We predict 
a kaleidoscope of new ground to unfurl 
beneath yourtoes like new buds in 
springtime; this is the perfect way to 
brighten up the year. 
Nottingham Rescue Rooms (March 24), Cardiff 
Clwb Ifor Bach (25), Belfast Black Box (27), Dublin 
Crawdaddy (28), Glasgow ABC2 (29), Brighton 
Komedia (31), Manchester Mint Lounge (April 1), 
London Scala (2), Bristol Arnolfini (3), Coventry 
Taylor John's House (4) 



volcano! 

Difficult but delicious Chicago trio perplex 
yer cerebral cortex at the following dates, 
places (with Wildbirds And Peacedrums in 
Manchester and London). 
Brighton The Freebutt (April 5), 
Manchester Dulcimer (6), 
London Luminaire (7) 

nancy Wallace 

Mistress of spooked folk takes up residency 
every Wednesday for four weeks, hosting 
different supports and friends each time. 
London The Brittannia Pub 
(May 6, 13, 20, 27) 

wavves 

Up'n'cominghotyoungthang who's just 
signed to Bella Union. 
ManchesterThe Bay Horse (March 2), 
London Scala (3), Cardiff Buffalo 
Bar (4), Brighton The Prince Albert (5), 
London TBC (6) 

Caroline weeks 

Bat For Lashes' bandmember and artiste in 
her own right takes to the road to preview 
upcoming album Songs For Edna. 
Stoke NewingtonWord Festival 
(March 7), London Luminaire (26), 
Brighton Westhill Community 
Hall (April 11), Birmingham 
Town Hall (12), Oxford The Regal 
(1 3), Bristol Anson Rooms (1 5), 
Brighton Corn Exchange (16), 
London Cafe Oto (18) 

wildbirds and peacedrums 

MariamWallentin andAndreasWerliin met 
at Gothenburg's Academy Of Music And 
Drama. The rest, as they say, is history; here 
they'll be previewing new material from 
upcoming album The Snake: expect feral 
noise, elemental melody and some loving 
glances cast 'cross the stage (they're 
married, y'know). 
London The Social (March 2), 
Brighton Prince Albert (April 1), 
Norwich Arts Centre (2), Bristol 
Arnolfini (3), Sheffield Leadmill (4), 
Glasgow Captain's Rest (5), 
Manchester Dulcimer (6), 
London Luminaire (7) 



plan b | 59 



^CfruA'Vs 



this is desire 

Words: Nicola Meighan 
Illustration: Kristin Oftedal 




PJ Harvey and John Parish 

A Woman A Man Walked By (Island) 

"Who would suspect me of this rapture?" - 
'Black Hearted Love' 

Quite a few of us, as it happens, Polly Jean. 

Of course, many of us would expect nothing 
less than swaggering nirvana and wry exaltation 
from England's exceptional blues-rock consort, 
because Harvey- long held as a bewitching yet 
earnest harbinger of cadaverous pop - is also, 
at times, you know: a laugh. 

Sure, her muse is profoundly garrotted 
by malevolent folklore, murder balladry and 
a frankly macabre vernacular (indeed, said 
virtues spatter this excellent album). But from 
the swaggering kick-off, this second album 
billed with enduring collaborator/producer Parish 
serves to testify that, above all else, Harvey's here 
to entertain. 'Black Hearted Love' may signal 
a nod to the artist's gothic theatricality, but listen 
up: it's a full-on, rambunctious axe serenade, 
flushed with valiant carnal euphoria. It reminds 
us that the only reason Harvey is not a fuck-off 
superstar is because she chooses not to be. 
Like the delirious, corrosive pop of 'The Letter' 
(2004), 'Good Fortune' (2000), 'A Perfect Day 
Elise' (1 998), 'C'mon Billy' (1 995), 'Sheela-Na-Gig' 
(1 992) and numerous other marvels before it, 
'Black Hearted Love' lays bare Harvey's irrepressible 
knack for flagellating the flaccid rock canon. 

Her histrionic romps don't stall at track 
one: they're all over this oft-comical shop of 
horrors, which is imbued with funereal hoopla, 
musical tomfoolery and lyrical monkey business. 
But they're rarely as immediate as 'Black Hearted 
Love', and with good reason. As with her 
contemporaries (and erstwhile collaborators) 
Thorn Yorke and Nick Cave, Harvey avidly 
rails against lucrative blueprints and aesthetic 
complacency; she violates the outposts of 
(re)invention instead. "For me, the most important 
thing, with anything I'm working on, is that it 
doesn't remind me of something I've done before," 
Harvey recently stated. "I could really easily keep 
doing one same formula, and a lot of people would 
probably love it, but I'd start dying inside." 

And so it figures that this treatise is at odds with 
the brilliant austerity of Harvey's last canvas, 2007's 
White Chalk, cited by many as her greatest work to 
date. Whereas the piano-navigated White Chalk 
was an exercise in stylistic allegiance, A Woman 
A Man Walked By \s an album of dramatic 
contrasts and contradictions: the skewed, brawny 
guitars of the opening gambit brawl with a mangy 
ukulele croon in 'Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen', 
while fragmented, antique R&B ('April') seduces 
treacherous, bone-spitting blues (the title track) 
and distorted freak-outs ('Pig Will Not') nuzzle up 
with cinematic psalms ('Passionless, Pointless'). 
But the record's livid badinage does not compromise 



its passages of reverie or sadness: Harvey 
and Parish's sophomore outing also exquisitely 
soundtracks loss, longing, emptiness, rage, 
loneliness and quiet abandonment. It's as 
contemplative as it is cacophonous; as beatific 
as it is brutal. It's like nothing Harvey's done 
before. You want proof? Here, byway 
of qualification (and if my memory serves 
correct), are some things that Harvey has never 
done before: 

impersonated macy gray 

I refer you to 'April' - a cracked soul dirge that 
sees our chanteuse expose her chimerical 
larynx while blithely maligning the calendar 
month that brings with it flowers and gambolling 
lambs: "April, your rain overcomes me, " the 
narrator creaks, groaning beneath the burden 
of another year. 

turned her talents to rapping 

Enter PJ 'emcee' Harvey on the album's gentle, 
existential swansong 'Cracks In The Canvas'. "Dear 
God, you better not let me down this time. . . " she 
opines. It's nice and all that, a quiet poem for dearly 
departed, but she's geared us up for FUN by now. 



She violates the 
outposts of 
reinvention 



We want screeching, pantomimic wig-outs with 
schizophrenic transsexuals; sodomy, offal ! And, 
as luck would have it... 

recoiled in the joys of chicken liver balls 

This is more like it. "I want your fuckin' ASS, " 
paces Harvey, like a growling loon, on the record's 
hideous, glorious title track. It's a blues-defiling, 
brainsick ode to sexual malevolence, rejection 
and god knows what. It appears to conjure 
the seething mockery of a (possibly identifiable) 
balding coxcomb with a "chicken liver spleen" 
and "damp alleyways of the soul", although I dare 
not speculate further. What's certain is that it's 
a breathtaking wig-out -a raving maelstrom 
of death-knell pianos, pan-pipe whoops and 
ritualistic percussion. It is awful. It is awesome. 

barked like a dog 

The tumbling grunge Babel of 'Pig Will Not' 
has myriad highlights - gargantuan riffage, 
psychotic drum ruckus and a dissonant, hilarious 
snarl - but the climax erupts in a canine clamour. 
"I am your guardian ! I am your fairy! Woof Woof! " 
she yowls. 

Truly, she is untouchable. 

plan b | 61 



%**** 

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blue blooded creature 

Words: Chris Houghton 
Illustration: Anna Higgie 

Fever Ray 

Fever Ray (Rabid/Cooperative) 

It's apposite that the first time I hear this, 
London has entered its deepest chill in 
a generation: everything has ground to a 
halt and people are waiting for buses that 
will never come, or slipping on compacted 
ice outside the newsagents. Fever Ray- Karin 
Dreijer Andersson of Swedish brother-sister 
duo The Knife -has a lotto live up to. Over 
the past decade, their music -whether 
rendered through a prism of sunny-sad 
electro gloss orthrough carbon-coloured, 
concentric rings of techno-pop- had 
a singularly focused, unique and uncanny 
effect. In the distance, the puppet-masters 
pull off their beak masks in the snow, 
and, meanwhile, brother Olof Dreijer has 
reportedly been in the Amazon recording 
animals, fish and plants for the soundtrack 
to a Darwin-inspired opera. Attimes 
of sadness, I like to imagine the in-jokes 
at their family outings. 



\ 



This is Karin's debut album. Appropriately, 
it sounds at once everything like The Knife, 
and nothing like them at all. Recorded in 
the period after their stunningly ambitious, 
stony-faced and silly 2006 live shows and the 
birth of her second child, Fever Ray sounds 
a little likeTujiko Noriko, a little like Bowery 
Electric and a little like surrender. Despite 
the name, gone are the feverish synths of 
'Silent Shout' and 'Like A Pen' : the production 
is subtle, 'atmospheric', comfortable, 
unchanging; sounds are held up to the 

Until the ice thaws 

half-light, examined, accepted, and stretched 
out like bubblegum until they fade away. 
The lyrics are abstract, little thought-haikus 
that don't bear too much inspection. 

It's my favourite album of the year so 
far partly because it sounds like you don't 
deserve it to be so good. Clearly, it's not fun 
and games. Opener 'If I Had A Heart' smears 
vocals that are part-Gregorian chant, part 
animalistic growl upon leftover synths from 
a Knife remixthat never happened. 'Triangle 
Walks' dips and spins on sour pop hooks as 



i 



M N 



Andersson enunciates words like they're 
weapons. 'Coconut' channels the pre-chorus 
to Beck's 'Loser' as played by a chorus of 
children whose only access to music was being 
force-fed Neul's'Hallogallo'. 'Now's The Only 
Time I Know' speaks in tongues about feeding 
sparrows and painting eyelashes. 

Generally, there's such a blankness 
and bleakness that you just want to jump 
up into it and crawl inside: 'Seven' revels in 
downtempo synths and signif iers of boredom; 
"We used to talk on the phone. . . We talk 
about love/We talk about dishwasher 
tablets, illness/And we dream about heaven". 
lean imagine it being the soundtrack to 
a particularly brutal beating. You can't dance 
to it. Andersson once described The Knife's 
last album Silent Shoutto Plan B as "very 
dark. ..dark blue. And black. ..with hints 
of bright stuff". Synaesthesiacs will equally 
love Fever Ray in a different way: there's 
a texture underpinning her songs that's at 
once purely sonic and also real: they tickle 
on the surface of your fingertips. Fever Ray 
doesn't really move you so much as have 
motion. But that's half of the attraction. 

Take it daily, until the ice thaws. 



Kicks (Rough Trade) 

Formed by Jamie McMorrow and Jackie 
McKeown after the breakup of The Yummy 
Fur, Glasgow's 1 990s certainly have the 
kind of Franz Ferdinand-influencing indie 
heritage many bands would sell their perfect 
haircuts for. It doesn't matter a jot on their 
disappointing second album, however, which 
raids the high camp of the glam Eighties 
for inspiration.TheT-Rexstomp of I Don't 
Even Know What That Is' fits disturbingly 
snugly into today's 'music to soundtrack 
seven pints and a fistfight' mini-genre, and 
the incessantly whimsical lyrics ( "Everybody 
just chil lax/Let's buy a bear and move to 



France') soon grate. K/cfcs feels like a flash 
smile with nothing behind it. 
Chris Lo 



Air France 



No Way Down (Something In 
Construction) 

Opening with a storm of circus horns, 
Gothenburg's Air France take you to 
dreamy places on blissed-out mind doodles. 
This compilation of two EPs occupies the 
same fey techno micro-genre asThe Field's 
From Here We Go Sublime; it's carefully 
euphoric. 'No Excuses' throbs and rolls like 
a sunny motorbike ride, but it could lose the 
sickly, 'uplifting' disco strings. 'Karibien' 



drowns amid bongo noise and desperate 
voices. Delicately assembled but frustratingly 
thin-sounding throughout, No Way Down 
is the ignorable soundtrack to a beach 
bonfire party. 
Thorn Gibbs 



Lily Allen 



It's Not Me, It's You (Regal) 

If so inclined, you could waste a whole 
weekend trying to figure out why our Lil's 
second album is so much better than her 
first. Is it just the pressure of having to follow 
up platinum debut Alright, Still! There's 
certainly a beautiful economy here, sculpted, 
with every note resolved and true. Or has she 



scaled up the acerbic wit and taboo? 
Well, sorta, but not really, although 'Not Fair' 
takes bitchy demolition of the male ego to 
new heights, an anthem for every woman 
to sing pissed when her man hasn't made 
her come. Could it just be the continuity, 
the way it gels as the work of two people 
(Allen and producer Greg Kurstin)? Or how 
she's contextualised her retro postures 
as part of a stainless, gleaming postmodern 
wwrather than just chucking a bunch of 
old stuff together as an exercise in fetishistic 
nostalgia? Maybe. Or maybe it's just the 
blessed absence of that useless tosser 
Mark Ronson. Yeah. That's it. 
Ringo P Stacey 



62 | plan b 



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roar roar rasputin 

Words: Joseph Stannard 

Illustration: Nick White 

Mastodon 

Crack The Skye (Warner Bros/Reprise) 

It scarcely matters what the concept of 
Mastodon's fourth album is; it only matters that 
the concept exists. The concept album can be 
a formidable weapon aimed squarely at the heads 
of those who would restrict the creativity and 
ambition of musicians -especially musicians 
who don't want their albums to be a bunch of 
disconnected, download-friendly tracks but prefer 
to construct a song cycle about, say, the epic hunt 
for the white whale, ascending a mountain of 
blood or, in the case of Crack The Skye, astral 
travel, Tsarist Russia and the devil. The Atlanta 
quartet aren't alone in putting a post-millennial 
spin on the supposed follies of the progressive 
Seventies - lesser bands such as the awful Coheed 
And Cambria are also doing their bit for the 
perpetuation of pomp - but Mastodon are bigger, 
gnarlier and smarter than the competition, and 
they also have better riffs. But is that all there is? 
Is this just another breakneck hurtle through 



musical territory covered on previous album, 
Blood Mountain? 

Not really. Crack The Skye continues the process 
of refinement Mastodon have been engaged 
in since their early days, a gradual smoothing down 
of the edges to mirror the gradual maturation 
of their songcraft. While the band have become 
noticeably distanced from the rough'n'ready outfit 
of yore ('yore' being a peculiarly proggy word) 
and their songs increasingly melodic, their 
arrangements have assumed a complexity that 
encourages them to push the limits of their 

Astral travel. Tsarist 
Russia and the devil 

abilities. If all of this makes Mastodon sound 
like similarly prog-influenced Swedish metal 
megastars Opeth, fear not; at heart, Mastodon 
are a hardcore band. There are no vile Nightwish- 
style vocals to be found here; even the most lavishly 
turned curlicue is imbued with purpose. As with 
Blood Mountain, the rugged intricacy of Crack The 
Skye reflects the twists of a decidely baroque plot 
rather than the onanistic tendencies of its creators. 



Perhaps I should reveal something of the 
concept. It wouldn't be giving too much away 
to inform that our dear old friend - and muse to 
Boney M - Grigori Efimovich Rasputin puts in a 
crucial, spirited appearance, a device which recalls 
the vibrant phantasmagoria of Mike Mignola's 
Hellboy comic and Guillermo Del Toro's 2004 
film adaptation and its 2008 sequel. Mastodon's 
rich, mythic-heroic aesthetic -expressed both 
through the gallop-over-treacherous-terrain 
of the music and Paul Romano's eye-bogglingly 
intricate cover art- is a dead ringer for Del Toro's, 
making a collaboration seem entirely appropriate, 
if unlikely and ultimately unnecessary. Mastodon 
convey enough excitement through sound alone. 
It helps that they appear to mean it. One of the 
most gratifying things about Mastodon is that 
they're not just a bunch of spoiled suburban dicks 
playing around with TSR imagery for a cheap 
laugh; they distil the human need for adventure 
and heroism into their music with a straight 
face and stout heart. This may account for the 
Apollonian feel of their music; itfeels noble, 
righteous, perhaps even moral. In this respect, and 
many others, there's no band quite like Mastodon. 

Keep watching the sky. 



Arbou return 



Song Of The Pearl (Thrill Jockey) 

I'm of the opinion that the devil is in the 
detail. There's an impulse to see groups 
in a particular genre as existing on a linear 
scale with excellent at one end and bilge 
at the other, but it's truer to say that most 
'genre music' signed to a label exists on 
a bell-curve, with everything very close 
together. So it is the smallest of details 
that count here, and this album is a slice 
of dazzling alternative rock. It's recorded 
easy on the gain but loud as fuck; lysergic 
bursts of warm guitar vibrate snare skins. 
Arbouretum owe as much to the English 
delivery of Martin Carthy as they do to the 
beatnik languor of Fred Neil and the 



polychromatic textures of J Mascis. 
Stylistically, you may have heard stuff like 
this before - but it's the little details that 
put them way out in the lead. 
John Doran 



Belbury Poly 



From An Ancient Star (Ghost Box) 

The 1 1 th release from Ghost Box sees the 
label continue to explore the uncanny sonic 
possibilities of a semi-mythical past. Belbury 
Poly - a reference to CS Lewis' novel That 
Hideous Strength -is an alter ego of Jim 
Jupp, one of the founders of the label who, 
along with Julian House, has become the 
unwitting standard bearer of a genre 
tentatively labelled 'hauntology'. From the 



Erich Von Daniken and HP Lovecraft- 
referencing sleevenotes to the pastoral 
English folk which merges with an epic, 
'foreign' exoticism, Jupp's latest piece of 
audio is a celebration of the eccentric. 'The 
All At Once Club' is a sort of slapstick funfair; 
'A Great Day Out' is a jubilant, genre-ripping 
romp which takes a detour into melodica- 
infused dub. The combined effect is 
comfortable, comforting and strangely 
unsettling; everything you'd expect. 
Stuart Aitken 



Bob Log III 



My Shit Is Perfect (Birdman) 

While one-man-band Bob Log Ill's 
latest outing is stuffed full of biting 



humour, it's difficult not to tire of it 
quickly. With a basic format of speedy, 
exaggerated blues-pluck, vocal grunts 
and country twangs, it pretty soon 
becomes one continuous thud. This isn't 
to say you can't put references to it: 
he squelches like Ween, rants like the 
Residents and could even challenge 
Primus in the white boy funk stakes (though 
in places this feels more like he's lifted 
those bass riffs from Seinfielo). Ultimately, 
he's a dude playing the guitar and a bass 
drum with his foot - and it's the kind of 
thing that needs to be witnessed in a live 
setting to take effect. This documentation 
doesn't work. 
Jonathan Falcone 



64 1 plan b 



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albums 



^ 




when the bell tolls 

Words: John Doran 
Illustration: Gemma Correll 

As various modes of haunted weather audition (convincingly) for the 
apocalypse, we think it wise to compile a soundtrack for approaching doom 

Slomo: The Bog (Important) 

LSD March: Under Milk Wood (Important) 

Strings Of Consciousness And Angel: Strings Of Consciousness And Angel (Important) 

/Ethenor: Faking Gold And Murder (VHF) 

Final: Reading All The Right Signals Wrong (No Quarter) 



I'm listening to a big batch of drone during the 
UK's " biggest snow event for years" . The weather 
incident is like a dry run for a cataclysmic disaster 
that ends all human life. In districts, everyone 
retreats to their house; in houses, everyone retreats 
to their rooms; in rooms, everyone retreats 
beneath their duvets. People who go to work 
are "theonlyoneswhomadeitin". 

During Slomo's The Bog my brother-in-law pulls 
a reverse Oates, coming in unexpectedly from the 
snow and sitting down next to me. "It sounds like 
the music you'd hear if you were on a boat and 
really fucked, " he says. He doesn't mean handbag 
house on a ferry in Ibiza, and he's right. It's not like 
the actual music you'd hear the cruise ship's stoic 
band playing as the waves lapped against their 
shins, or like the OST to the film of the event, but 
an enhanced psycho-acoustic interpretation of 
a mass of ice the size of Edinburgh castle causing 
seasoned timbers to creak and break, an unmanned 
bell tolling in the wind. As the title suggests, Slomo's 
(slightly poorly recorded) album is actually about 
bog men, a subject which seems to have spread like 
memetic wildfire through the drone community. 
Julian Cope, who is better preserved than the 
Tollund Man and more mentally diverse than 
a Stone Age priest who dined on nothing but 
ergot, turns up to add verse to the deathly groans. 

If Slomo sounds like a slow descent beneath the 
waves, then Under Milk Wood is the herky jerky 

66 1 plan b 



stomp of the dead sailors coming back out of 
the brine. LSD March are a Sapporo-based duo 
who deal in post- Mercury Rev's Yerself Is Steam, 
post-Sebadoh's The Freed Man, MV&EE-style 
lysergic guitar haze morphing into lazy, disjointed 
Sixties pop. Under Milk Wood is like being trapped 
in the mind of Organ Morgan, the unhappy organist 
from the Dylan Thomas poem of the same name, 
who cries out " Help !" in his sleep because of 
the horrific music he imagines. He should stop 



Crystalline forms, 
streams of melt-water 
and strange harmony 



eating cheese on toast and listening to Khanate just 
before bed and give the buzzing beauty of the new 
collaboration between Strings Of Consciousness 

and Angel a try instead. Strings Of Consciousness 
is, at its core, a string quartet augmented with 
guitars, electronics and other instruments. 
They may well play free music but they're 
disciplined, and everything they do breathes 
beautifully. Joining them are llpo Vaisanen (Pan 
Sonic), Dirk Dresselhaus (Schneider TM) and cellist 



Hildur Gudnadottir (Mum), who add a certain 
blissful friction and unease to the soundscape. 

David Tibet has spent his entire life pondering 
death. This is not just the preserve of artists, 
though; it is the kind of bug-eyed, eschatological 
lunatic-think that so many modern religious groups 
deal in; people who believe in the apocalypse 
to such an extent that they are helping bring it 
about via a perverse act of global wish fulfillment. 
There's nothing wrong with this fascination; it's 
an absorbing, if not essential, subject for study. 
But given the former Psychic TV acolyte's immersion 
in it you'd think he'd be able to raise more than 
a querulous wail; his part in ytthenor's Faking 
Gold And Murder is no more than a schoolboy's tear 
falling into the void upon realising his own mortality. 
He comes across as a pallid imitation of his former 
mentor Genesis P-Orridge. But never fear, because 
the rest of this record is immaculate, especially the 
astounding work of percussionists Nicolas Field 
and Alexandre Babel. They rage against the dying 
of the light, eloquent in their wordlessness. 

The arrival of a new Final album is the kind 
of thing that can inspire a forwards Shackleton, 
pushing me out of the warm kitchen and towards 
the spider-filled garage, into the brother-in-law's 
climbing gear and out into a snow-covered Finsbury 
Park. Justin Broadrick founded Final when he was 
just a boy in the early Eighties, living in a commune 
with his parents long after hippy idealism had been 
corrupted by heroin. Collage and electronics were 
quickly outshone by his involvement in grindcore 
and Godflesh, but Final has always been there, 
quietly humming away in the background. 
Of course, once out into the evening, the park 
is packed full of people having fun, building 
snowmen and running around, the years falling 
from them. There's no need for silly boys thinking 
about dying tonight. The high pitched squeal and 
roaring crackle of Reading All The Right Signs 
Wrong is actually full of shattering crystalline forms, 
streams of melt-water and strange harmony; the 
perceived horror of post-industrial society blanketed 
with beauty, even if only for a night or two. 



albums 




retaliate, celebrate 

Words: Melissa Bradshaw 
Illustration: Olimpia Zagnoli 

Extra Golden 

Thank You Very Quickly (Thrill Jockey) 

We, 'The West', are bipolar when it comes to 
music of 'other' origin. On the one hand, it's 
an accessory to the urbane, ghetto-chic kids in 
faux bling and tribal patterns rushing upon the 
latest sound from somewhere a bit developing. 
Over the past few years, we've seen the emergence 
of baile funk, kwaito, kuduro and cumbia into the 
mainstream, and MIA dancing around the jungle 
in Sri Lanka - or was that Angola? - with the 
natives. Alternatively, 'other' music is the domain 
of the beardy, guys who know all of the Palm 
Pictures' back catalogue, spend their Saturdays 
in Sterns and would probably sneer at you if you 
asked what a nyatiti was. If you find the first type 
to be shallow-verging-on-racist, and the second 
terrifying - but realise that both are symptomatic 
of an inexorably shrinking world which proffers 
many pleasures -you must buy this. Both 
stereotypes have their irony: ghetto-chic genuinely 
expands the club world, and beardy guys are 
responsible for some of the best musical fun ever. 



The latter has one example in Extra Golden: 
the band was formed when Otieno Jagwasi 
helped Ian Eagleson with his doctoral research 
on benga, Kenyan guitar-based dance music 
which transcribes the syncopated melodies of 
the nyatiti - a traditional Kenyan lyre - in the 
amplifications of rock and roll. Extra Golden 
enjambs words and members (Onyango Wuod 
Omari and Alex Minoff, respectively) from 
Eagleson's Washington, DC band Golden and 
Jagwasi's Nairobi group, Orchestra Extra Solar 
Africa. This istheirthird album, recorded in 

Restless and mellifluous 

America on the third floor hallway/laundryroom 
of Eagleson's parents' house, in the Pocono 
mountains and a mixing studio in DC. 

There is a theory that the saddest music in 
the world is the Irish jig, because its frenetic 
determination to dance masks centuries of 
displacement. By turns restless and mellifluous, 
sharing something of highlife's melodic strumming 
but with heavier production, Extra Golden's sound 
is winningly upbeat. As benga is already a rock 
fusion, you might expect Eagleson and Minoff 's 
influence to overwhelm the Kenyan style, but 



the balance is always delicate. 'Fantasies Of The 
Orient' is sung in both English and Luo, intricate 
chord patterns sitting comfortably in the lap 
of thick, swirling guitar licks. The climax is a benga- 
disco trio: first, 'Anyango', replete with fat organs; 
then, the slower, euphonic 'Ukimwi', fingerprinted 
with the effect of Baaba Maal, and closer 'Thank 
You Very Quickly', etched lovely with soft, rolling 
snares. Extra Golden's energy and harmony belie 
interminable hassles: in 2005, Otieno died of 
liver and kidney disease with HIV, and 'Ukimwi' 
is a "plea to destroy AIDS". 

Thank You Very Quickly is dedicated to 
everyone who helped the band and their 
families through the post-election violence 
of Kenya in 2008 and, back in 2006, Extra 
Golden attended the Chicago World Music 
Festival with visa clearance help from the office 
of Senator Obama; on their sophomore LP, 
Hera Ma Nono, there is a track in his name. 
So, what wonderful timing that, as a man of 
Kenyan origin has succeeded to the globe's 
most important leadership role, an album of 
Kenyan-American origin occurs to detail and 
embrace rather than generalise history. 

Thank You Very Quickly is no more sad than 
it is triumphant. 



Mike Bones 



A Fool For Everyone (Vice) 

Mike Strallow seems an anomaly among 
his New York buddies; signature song 'What 
I Have Left' is the last thing you'd imagine 
Gang Gang Dance remixing (it's a Bambi- 
eyed ode to, well, himself). He's got one of 
those gruff purrs, deployed with, I imagine, 
a half-wink and a bit of chest hair showing 
(indeed, on the album's cover he lies there 
naked and prostrate, the bastard). It seems a 
tearjerker movie or teen sitcom is where this 
balladeering belongs; but, despite my efforts 
to claim otherwise, I'm as much of a sucker 
for this type of weep-mongering as the next 
person. To his credit, Bones realises this and 



slurps the truth up with a sneer: "Put Bright 
Eyes and I in a room somewhere, "he sings, 
" You 'II never tell us apart. " 
Lauren Strain 



Lucio Capece and Mika Vainio 



Trahnie (Editions Mego) 

The idea of Mika Vainio, still associated 
in the public mind with the bare-bones 
techno of Pan Sonic, collaborating with 
Lucio Capece -a Berlin-based, Argentine 
peer of Keith Rowe, Rhodri Davies and 
Toshimaru Nakamura- is curious. But the 
results are extremely interesting. The two 
find common ground, oddly enough, in 
the greyscale, pins-and-needles digitalia 



that Mego have oft specialised in. Only 
Capece's clarinet and saxophones, subjected 
to SeymourWright levels of respiratory 
violence, are recognisable as instruments; 
anonymous scrapes, concrete sounds, 
hovering synth-tones, crackles and 
jarring white noise compose much of 
the picture. While far from reductionist, 
the sounds are quite sparsely distributed, 
a keen balance between noise and space 
adding an air of menace to pieces like 
'Hondonada' and 'AhuyentaTemores', 
while 'Sahalaitainen' suggests something 
entirely new, like Pan Sonic if they left the 
machines to their own devices. 
Daniel Barrow 



The Chatham Singers 



Juju Claudius (Damaged Goods) 

Billy Childish keeps it in the family, with 
wife Julie lending her vocalsto an album 
of tuneful country. 'An Image Of You' has 
a distinctly stalkerish edge, while 'Upside 
Mine' is a harmonica-hefty blues rocker, 
dripping with sex and sung by Billy. It's 
tempting, but not correct, to read these two 
tracks as a dialogue between the pair. This 
is blues, after all, and death lurks: 'TheTrue 
Story Of Elizabeth Sargent', 'Angel Of Death' 
and even 'The Good Times' share a distinct 
mortality. It's classic stuff that could have 
been written at any time in the last century. 
Joe Shooman 



plan b|67 



albums 




ignoring lore 

Words: Matt Evans 
Illustration: Duncan Barrett 

Wounded Knee 

Shimmering New Vistas (Benbecula) 

"The older it is, the gooder it is. "-Manny, 
Black Books 

The folk music of my own shores rankles. 
It's the over-familiarity of its conventions and the 
assumption of genetic affection, of blood fealty 
to accidental heritage. Edinburgh's Wounded Knee 
makes folk music of a kind - certainly recognisably 
British, arguably pure Scottish. But it's folk without 
true provenance, arising from an aborted history, 
a frayed timeline that never quite worked out. 

He used to be a tabletop noise dude. I first saw 
him in his second phase, when he began discarding 
gadgets in favour of simple song. Using a loop 
pedal and an array of small percussions, he'd 
layer solo rounds that were playful, if sticky with 
historical residue. But he pared further, becoming 
purely a cappella. Then, the lyrics disappeared. 
He became wordless, abstract. It was as if he 
was unravelling human history, spurning not 



only the 2 1 st Century, or civilisation, but verbal 
communication itself. 

His first 'proper' album finds him still growing 
his own history, root to berry. First, the sublimely 
slinky 'My Wooden Cupboard', all human 
beatbox chuggery, digeridoo registers and siren 
howls, is an unlikely cousin of Marilyn Manson's 
'Beautiful People'. The sole lyric manifests as a 
warding chant- "My wooden cupboard has an evil 
eye"- both portentous and faintly absurd. 'Bools 
Rules', a hearty folk round about. . .err. . .crown 

Unravelling human 
history, spurning 
communication itself 

green bowling, fair swells with the revelries 
of summer and the bonhomie of honest 
gamesmanship. It's a lost chunk of oral history, 
a not-even -forgotten but never-was traditional 
arrangement. The first time you hear it, you'll 
have known it for years. 

Wounded Knee regresses further with the 
atavistic 'Rif On The Kif: heat haze over scrubland, 
cave daub and the crushing weight of a despoiling 
future. The existence of humankind is at least 



acknowledged on 'River Song', as he piles up 
freeform plainsong, a monastic Richard Youngs 
mired in tar. He gets to showboat his cavernous 
pipes, too, his tone not just subterranean but 
lying prostrate on the floor of a sub-basement 
in the Kingdom Of The Mole People. The stillness 
here is not that of a river but the whisper of granite. 

Then, there's the centrepiece, 20 minutes of 
vocal abstraction, drones, gurgles, gibberish and 
mutating maxillary percussion. The loops pile up, 
diminish and are constantly usurped, allowing 
Wounded Knee to imperceptibly segue from 
garbled sound poetry to funked-up embouchure 
to oceanic drone. A simple mantra of "Gonna 
move to Atlanta" brings things to an ambiguous 
close with dour, cheery intoning and death-defying 
baritone swoops. It's not really right to call this 
work. That implies strenuousness, effort against 
resistance, conceptual heaviness. And, despite 
all of its (pre-) historical resonances and ominous 
hugeness, Shimmering New Vistas is in essence the 
sound of a man hard at play. Listening to it feels like 
a privilege; it allows you to intimately experience 
in real time what another human being does for 
fun when they're fairly sure that no one else is 
around (no, not that. . .) It's beautiful, vast, ancient, 
slightly silly, and funky as fungus. 



Dananananaykroyd 



Hey Everyone (Best Before) 

Listening to Hey Everyone, it's hard to 
imagine that members of this band break 
sweaty electro and breakcore joints. 
With their Dananananaykroyd hats on, 
the Glaswegian sextet rock the kind of 
effervescent indie that makes Klaxons 
sound like Jeff Mills; it would be reductionist, 
but not totally harsh or inaccurate, to call 
Hey Everyone an updated take on what 
Superchunk were 'garnering' 'plaudits' for in 
the early Nineties, updated by virtue of the 
production (which was handled by someone 
called Machine, who normally deals with 
youth metal bands). Gotta say, the fact that 



over half of these 1 3 tracks have previously 
been released somewhat takes the gloss 
off what should be something of a banner 
release. But if you're just peering in now, 
it won't make much difference. 
Noel Gardner 



DAT Politics 



Mad Kit (Chicks On Speed) 

French trio DAT Politics are musical ADD, 
hyperactive electronica layered in a sugar- 
rush bounce, full of frantic voices imploring 
you to get up'n'groove. 2006's WowTwist 
was particularly addictive, the vocals amped 
up to a pennywhistle pitch, the songs 
deliriously short and sweet.Three years on 



and MadKitls similarly effervescent, a 
bundle of glitchy beats. Even so, it doesn't 
quite have the charm of its predecessor; if 
what made l/l/oi/i/71/i//sfso appealing was 
its fat-free chirpiness, here the tracks are 
surprisingly leaden, veering ever closer to 
the electro-house of compatriot Ed Banger's 
school of noise. They still offer high fun and 
low consequence, but DAT Politics are best 
consumed in small doses. 
Sam Lewis 



Dan Deacon 



Bromst (Carpark) 

Where its predecessors extolled shared 
visions and achievements, this record speaks 



from a single vantage point rather than a 
collective view, proclaims the exhilaration 
of being a supersensitive, lucky itinerant in 
a world - a real world, rather than the gamey 
levels and cartoon landscapes of Spiderman 
Of The Rings- of boundless fascination. 
There's a distinctly folk feel, most notably 
in the sampling of 'The Day Is Past And 
Gone' for standout track 'Wet Wings', 
and Deacon's use of thumb piano, pianola 
and choir is a welcome expansion of the 
densely programmed nanotones of yore. 
These songs are still recognisably hectic, 
brave and loving, they still move upward 
and outward unembarrassedly, and the 
naivety of the vocals, their open appeal 



68 1 plan b 



albums 



to better nature, will still divide the grudging 
from the willing; only be willing, not just 
because the world is beautiful, but because 
this album is accomplished enough to 
quieten the cynic behind every major chord. 
Petra Davis 



The Decembensts 



The Hazards Of Love (Rough Trade) 

"There's an odd bond between the music of 
the British folk revival and classic metal," 
said Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy in 
a recent interview. Yes, there is: interminable 
strumming, misplaced nostalgia, towering 
narratives that end badly, etc.This record 
begins with something that sounds like The 
Neverending Story soundtrack: sweeping, 
grandiose, it's Atreyu's theme, only with 
Bastian warbling a nasal folk-rock karaoke 
over the melody. Then it gets proggy and 
wrong (and continues in that vein), with 
embarrassing Led Zep guitars twangling 
and jangling all overthe place while Meloy 
e-nun-ci-ates a series of excruciating lyrics 
about Young Margaret, whoever the hell 
she is (poor little esoteric dead thing, to be 
balladeered about so baldly!) And then there 
are those Celt-inflected vocals over a bunch 
of rawkin' axe licks that sound like late-era 
Genesis. One hopes it's a joke, but one gets 
the sinking feeling that it probably isn't. 
There are some entertaining moments: 
every so often a big-voiced female vocalist 
is wheeled out for a stupendous turn (Shara 
Worden, Becky Stark, or one of the guest 
stars playing cameo in the whole great 
prog-folk tragedy) and then wheeled back 
in again. And the guitar strums on. And on. 
Jesse Darlin' 



The Deer Tracks 



Aurora (Despotz) 

"Wounds may never heal again, "suggests 
Elin Lindfors in a delicate purr, moments 
before Aurora's opening gambit 'Yes This Is 
My Broken Shield' explodes into a flurry of 
guitar and piano. As an introduction to this 
Swedish boy-girl duo it's both mournful and 
euphoric, setting the tone for a debut album 
in which deep somnolence rests alongside 
skittering rushes of warmth. Hailing from 
the city of Gavle, the pair recorded these 
songs beneath, wait for it, a three-ton straw 
model goat, the aim being a set that could 
(as title hints) adequately soundtrack the 
phenomenon of the Northern Lights. That 
they succeed points towards an innately 
Scandinavian faculty for twinkling, ethereal 
beauty, and while Aurora occasionally 
drifts into the soporific, it does so in a 
beguiling manner. 
James Skinner 



Durrty Goodz 



Ultrasound (Awkward) 

First thoughts, before it's even hit the deck? 
It's not the promised album Born Blessed. 
Eighteen months after it was trailed on the 
back of his flawless debut EP 'Axiom', that 
album is still to come. Officially, this is the 
'pre-album'. So you figure this one's gonna 
have all the B-grade stuff, right? Nitpickers 
could note there are a few recycled choruses 
in the final stretch, but they're fools if the 
context is forgotten. That is: over a dozen 
tracks of literally hype flows, where Goodz 
awes with his poise at double time like a 
Jamaican Twista with the casual charm of 
DevinThe Dude on sugar instead of weed. 
On 'Grime Killers' Durrty slays (among 



loads of others) those who are "diluting the 
culture"; on 'More To The Floor' he skillfully 
smirks a generic electro beat in an effort to 
kill, well, electro. These're all elements that 
help establish Ultrasound 'as world class, 
the equal of anything you'll hear from the 
UK this year. But the status is sealed by 
the way Goodz understands and represents 
his hardcore culturally. Not being tricky, 
just playful in a quest to prove his purist 
vision - that he's got the realest shit, and 
that everyone loves him for it. For sure, if 
they don't now they will soon. 
Ringo P Stacey 



Emeralds 



What Happened (No Fun Productions) 

Noise's infatuation with the distressed 
synthesiser dates back to the late Seventies 
and early Eighties, where new, compact 
Korg and Roland models proved the perfect 
tool for the sonic terrorist on a budget. 
But while Ohio trio Emeralds sit firmly within 
the modern noise nexus - last year's debut, 
Solar Bridge, saw the light of day on ex-Wolf 
Eye Aaron Dilloway's Hanson, while What 
Happened arrives on No Fun Fest curator 
Carlos Giffoni'simprint-their sound harks 
back to a somewhat earlier age: specifically, 
kosmische mid-Seventies synth explorers like 
Cluster and Klaus Schulze, whose languid, 
gently cosmic washes of electric drone 
provided a heightened sense of stasis that 
stood in sharp contrast to motorik's pulsing 
motion. Five tracks here find John Elliott and 
Steve Hauschildt's synths pitched head to 
head, high, twinkling oscillations exploding 
spark-like over heavy, contoured bass tones, 
with guitarist Mark McBride appearing 
at opportune moments to add languid 
melodies that circle in tight, atomic orbits. 
Transcendent stuff, with'Damaged Kids' 
offering the one moment of serious discord, 
discombobulated fragments drifting into 
gentle motion around the midpoint before 
building to peaks of bleak, droning intensity. 
Louis Pattison 



Enablers 



Tundra (Exile On Mainstream) 

Fogged-up lungs belch descriptions of 
empty scenes: bleak kitchens, dead-end 
roads, car lights penetrating voids. Words 
dissipate and re-string themselves, assuming 
new, nightmarish mutations. A molten 
communion of oddly clean guitars and 
desperate, detuned drums - like flat tyres - 
ebbs beneath, and such quiet devastation 
continues for half an hour, amassing poetic 
carcasses, apocalyptic references, flirtations 
with final sins. Tundra is a necessary but 
uncomfortable portrait of vocalist Pete 
Simonelli's Jekyll/Hyde split, and a similarly 
burdensome lesson in deflected power 
as Enablers' last release, 2006's Output 
Negative Space. Tundra is limited to a run 
of 1 200 copies only- all presented in hand- 
screened wooden boxes with velvet inlays - 
possibly because wide exposure to its 
darkness would encourage an even 
greater slump in national morale. 
Lauren Strain 



Frightened Rabbit 



Quietly Now! Midnight Organ Fight 
Live And Acoustic At The Captain's 
Rest(FatCat) 

A cynic might question the validity of releasing 
a live and acoustic version of an album not 
a yearsince its original incarnation, but the 




;d in 
bums 



Various 

Dark Was The Night (4AD) 

Lots of goodies on this double compilation, released 
aid of HIV arts charity Red Hot. Previous Red Hot albums 
have proven epochal in their way: 1990's Red Hot And Blue 
provided a selection of Cole Porter covers by the likes of 
Tom Waits and Salif Keita; No Alternative collected alt-stalwarts aplenty to 
broker a dialogue about HIV with the nascent MTV2 generation. Dark Was 
The Night features new work by Sufjan Stevens and Arcade Fire, duets 
between Grizzly Bear and Feist, Conor Oberst and Gillian Welch. Antony 
Hegarty's cover of Dylan's 'I Was Young When I Left Home' deserves special 
mention; his vocal tendresse pours warm molasses over Bryce Dessner's 
stoical picking. Dirty Projectors and David Byrne's 'Knotty Pine' manages 
grace and purpose, Byrne and Longstreth shoring up a melody like a picket 
line. Best of all, Kronos Quartet bend their melancholy around Blind Willie 
Johnson's 'Dark Was The Night', the moan and rattle and glottal stop 
eloquently makeshifted by fingers and strings. 
Petra Davis 




powerful intimacy displayed here should 
dispel any lingering doubts. Scott Hutchison's 
impassioned howl is blunt, his questing lyrics 
propelled by a crackled, formidably tight 
'Rabbit. The reason why Midnight Organ 
FightUas been taken to heart by so many lies, 
perhaps, in the album's commendable grasp 
of juxtaposition; deft melodic touches are 
married to the most devastating home truths. 
When James Graham of TheTwilight Sad 
takes lead vocal duties on 'Keep Yourself 
Warm', the result is every bit as electrifying 
as an acoustic performance allows. 
James Skinner 



Santiago Latorre 



Orbita (Accretions) 

Barcelona-based studio engineer and 
saxophonist Santiago Latorre's final year 
university project saw him tackle the 
sonification of the human genome. For his 
debut album, Orbita, he swaps microscope 
for telescope and joins the swirl of the 
celestial dancefloor. A mix of elegant jazz 
and gentle electronica, Orbita is ostensibly 
inspired by the planets' rotation and the 
unavoidable progress of time, its cyclical 
melodies departing in the flush of youth 
and returning with careworn faces and 
crumpled edges. 'Canon' sets the theme, 
its fresh, hearty sax tones slowly twisting 
into an atonal tangle.The title of 'Le 
Sobrevive, Le Sobrevive ATodo La Frialdad' 
turns from an individual chant into a crowd 
cry, and 'Viajando En Rosa' warps and 
wobbles from glassy tones into accordion, 
waltzing forward like diamond-anniversary 
tea-dancers. So the planets turn. But Orbita 
is less a dispassionate memento morilhan 
a warm, optimistic hymn to experience. 
Abi Bliss 



Franscisco Lopez and 
Lawrence English 



HB (Baskaru) 

Taking the tried and tested route of 
exchanging soundfiles and mutually 
reworking the results back and forth, 
Franscisco Lopez and Lawrence English have 
produced a collaboration which achieves 
an unusual state of grace. The source 
material is deliberately obscured, though 
there's some kind of birdsong throughout. 
Whether it's artificial in origin is moot; by 
the time each artist has applied his effects 
and processing, the results rustle with 
somnolence. And not much happens; but not 
much happens with all the fractal importance 
of a Daoist parable. Any description of what 
the sounds do becomes a lot less important 



than the conclusion that they simply are. 
Listening via headphones in competition 
with a bus ride, with street noise and the 
untreated sounds of nature all around, 
becomes not so much an experience of 
opposition as of complementary absorption. 
Richard Fontenoy 






Love Is AM 



A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At 
Night (What's Your Rupture?) 

Love Is All are psyched. It's probably one 
of the things that keeps them up at night. 
These Swedish popsters have a way with 
accelerated, vaguely shouty indie-punk 
that's packed\N\\\\ melody. Singer Josephine 
Olausson has an unhinged, Jemima Pearl 
element to her, but with a better-used 
singing voice and a greater willingness to 
articulately splurge her discontent into song. 
'Big Bangs, Black Holes, Meteorites' encases 
her paranoia perfectly. One key difference 
between this and debut record Nine Times 
That Same Song is that saxophonist Fredrik 
Erikkson has left, and the ex-quintet have 
become a tighter quartet.They sound less 
like Deerhoof than they did three years 
ago and more like a fuller Life Without 
Buildings. They still use the sax.They love 
to dance.They'd love youXo as well. You'll 
almost certainly have no choice. 
Tom Howard 



Terry Lynn 



Kingstonlogic 2.0 (Phree) 

Giving Jamaican music a kick out of the 
dance hall and onto a broader international 
stage is only part of what Terry Lynn and 
producer Phred are about.Throughoutthis 
travelogue around contemporary Kingston, 
the everyday problems of gangsters, guns, 
death squads and grinding poverty in the 
ghetto are thrown into sharp relief. In time- 
honoured fashion, they remix and expand 
the palette of buckshot beats and swivelling 
bass, bringing in technoid rhythms 
and references. 

Kingstonlogic\s a supercharged new 
vision of Daft Punk's Technologic made 
brightly afresh thanks to Lynn's inner city 
perspective. She touches on every concern 
of that record in a rapid-fire litany of injustice. 
Given the state of the globe right now, things 
aren't likely to get much better; but, as 
'IMF' and 'Politricks' explain, maybe they're 
bad enough already. It's not all negativity, 
though, as Lynn stamps out her ambition to 
escape; the concluding 'Rivers Of Babylon' 
rewinds the simple answer: one love. 
Richard Fontenoy 



plan b 1 69 



albums 




to be sad, to be high 

Words: Lauren Strain 
Illustration: Meg Hunt 

Contemplating growing pains and the plague 
of contentment with a bunch of American and 
Canadian songwriters as yr mentors 

Julie Doiron: I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day (JagJaguwar) 
Bill Callahan: Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle (Drag City) 
Vetiver: Tight Knit (Bella Union) 
Neko Case: Middle Cyclone (Anti-) 



"/ dreamed it was a dream you were gone/I woke 
up feeling ripped by reality" - 'Eid Ma Clack Shaw', 
Bill Callahan 

Against a wash of poster paint stands a girl in 
white, whiskers daubed on her cheeks and cat's 
ears clipped to her headband. Next to her, there's 
a smaller kid in a black bat's cloak looking moody 
and insincere. They're just two children playing 
dress-up on the front cover of Julie Doiron's ninth 
solo album, but maybe there's something more to 
this picture. Maybe the one in ivory lace symbolises, 
well, childhood innocence; and the other? That 
moment when we realise happiness is never 
uncomplicated, that there's always a nugget 
of doubt waiting in the wings. It's a pretty gauche 
reading of an inconspicuous drawing, but still: 
the acknowledgment of a 'fall' is one of the central 
tenements in Julie Doiron's oeuvre. / Can Wonder 
What You Did With Your Day sees her batting away 
such demons, though; it's less about a faltering 
descent from the obliviousness of childhood 
and more about an attempt to find a similarly 
uncluttered, enchanted way of viewing the world 
as an adult. "If I were a tailor, I could make you a tie, " 
she sings on 'Tailor'; "If I were a baker, I might bake 
those things you like, and I won 't mind taking 
my time". The focus lands on those non-committal 
words, 'might' and 'could', and it's almost as 



though her admission that 
she may not be able to do these 
things is what makes her sound so 
genuine. "It's always nice to come 
home after getting lots done, " she 
coos; "I slip off my boots, takeoff 
all my coats. . .And I think of you 
in New Brunswick, I think of 
you in your little house" . She's 
addressing her husband and 
children, but it's not sickly or 
smug. She enunciates with a 
child's relish, tonguing vowels as 
though they're glazed in jam: "We 
close our hands on the metal bars, 

open our mouths and sing out loud to each other". 

Her voice appleblossom rich, the melody capacious. 



We are addicted to 
inflicting and 
receiving injury 



Similarly, Bill Callahan's Sometimes I Wish 
We Were An Eagle marks a desire for a return to 
simplicity; but implies that this is an unachievable 
goal. "It seemed like a routine face at first, " he caws 
on 'Jim Cain', remembering a relationship, "with 
a death of the shadow and a lightness of step " - but 
he knows this happy, 'routine face' is temporary. 
"Love is the king of the beasts, " he spits throughout 
'Eid Ma Clack Shaw' in a stiff, bitter riposte to 
unshifting pain, providing an easy in-route to this 
album's main theme; we are addicted to inflicting 
(and receiving) injury. "Last night I swear I felt your 
touch, gentle and warm - how?!" he shudders, 
querulous at the ghastly grasp of something long 
dead. Even when recalling times of togetherness, 
love is figured as a weapon; in 'Rococo Zephyr', 
'she' is torn from her roots, wounded and gaping: 



"She lay beside me like a branch from a tender 
willow tree", he pines, voice buttery and charred; 
"a fiercer force had wrenched her from where she 
used to be. "Where Doiron finds rest, Callahan 
discovers no such easy plateau. Instrumental^, 
Callahan's work beneath his full name has lacked 
much of the terror of Smog, but the way the music 
now gleams with posture and propriety, full of 
clucking violins and a plum double bass, renders 
his torments all the more harrowing, "lam a child 
of linger-on, " he bleats, a tickle of cymbals like the 
inappropriate blush of a new season while Callahan 
is still marooned in winter. 

Meanwhile, Vetiver f rontman Andy Cabic's 
medicine for (e)motion sickness would seem to 
be that ol 1 American trope, the wide open road. 
"Nothin ' escapes the rolling sea/Not the past, nor 
you, nor me, " he implores, as though our histories 
and memories could be absolved, dissolved, with 
the lap of water. While Tight Knit's modest scores 
flush with lap steel and prickly percussion, it's 
thisvpreoccupation with wandering that renders 
Vetiver too, well, distant. Doiron and Callahan's 
incisions barely miss bone, but Cabic's words are 
vague. Compare his "I wanna be near you, now 
that you are here lying just next to me/How happy 
we'd both be" to Callahan's abject, maimed willow 
branch; Cabic's telling seems almost embarrassingly 
optimistic and, if not naive, certainly unrealistic. 

Then, there's Neko Case. Middle Cyclone 
comes dressed'n'doused in all the trappings 
of being a premier league artiste- there are all 
these unnecessary orchestras and waterfalls of 
sugar-water sheen everywhere. Through such 
a mesh of gauze and smoke it's difficult to discern 
the ex-New Pornographer's words gurning and 
crunching like they used to; worst of all, Middle 
Cyclone is the sound of a once fire-hearted 
girl being twisted into a sort of atypical, 
A//q/o-trumpeted frame of womanhood by 
convention, and it's icky to listen to. I'm not ready 
to align myself with the kind of adulthood that 
completely disassociates itself from childhood fears, 
from lasting insecurities. Not yet, no. 



70 1 plan b 



albums 



Men Of Unitus 



Gland Of Hope And Glory (No Lite) 

It's the titles, first of all: I don't know whether 
to find it worrying that 'If You're Happy And 
You Know It, Clap Your Glands' tickles my 
ribs. Or that the artwork, which my younger, 
more morbid self probably could have 
assembled (the disc itself features an 
inverted cross which is also a dribbling 
penis) gives me giggles. Probably. Well, the 
music corrects all that, though it is just as 
onanistically fixated on sonic violence: harsh, 
pummelling thrash with a particularly scuzzy 
edge of rusty-razor treble and frantic, vicious 
drums. In one particularly fine moment, 
on the penultimate 'Look Ma, No Glands' 
(heel), the entire ensemble collapses into 
a brawling chaos of dirty feedbacking 
frequencies and manictubthumping. 
The voice, supplied by Hey Colossus 
and Bromancer member, Paul, does a 
particularly neat line in relentless 
gravel-throat screams, modulating into 
shrieks and bass growls at random as if 
enjoying a joke at the listener's expense. 
Well, Paul, you bastard, we enjoy it too. 
Daniel Barrow 



Watersports (Touch And Go/ 
Quarterstick ) 

Suffused with anxiety, this record is equal 
parts outburst and restraint, equal parts 
dance and drama. Sonically, Mi Ami swim 
about in a boggy patch of ground stretching 
from the 1 3th Floor Elevators to Suicide 
(and spilling out of those vague parameters); 
rhythmically, they spin on their heels betwixt 
Afrobeat and a sludged-up Slits. Featuring 
two ex-members of Dischord's Black Eyes, 
Mi Ami have kept the polyrhythmic flame 
of their old band alive and they're unleashing 
the same frantic vocal style. But! However! 
Mi Ami are doused in dub in a way that 
Black Eyes never were. They reverberate, 
echo and slide, tripping over their own feet, 
hypnotising their own riffs until beginnings 
and endings meld together. Delayed, 
monotonous guitars loop over and over, 
while Daniel Martin-McCormick yelps 
lyrical about "The man in your house! The 
movement in your house! "m a manner 
that suggests he probably /sthe man in 
your house.The intensity is palpable. 
Hayley Avron 



Micachu And The Shapes 



Jewellery (Rough Trade) 

Deservedly the cover star of January's 
mag, wonky-tonk producer and songwriter 
Micachu combines a Sparks-ish pop 
sensibility with the weird electro factor 
of early-era Kevin Blechdom and a brand 
new thang all her own. It's pretty difficult 
to describe this stuff 'cause it feels genuinely 
new in some way; but still, I'm going to 
try. Here are some things you can expect 
from this album: cartoonish sound effects, 
joyfully unlovely vocal samples, heavy bass 
beats, squeaks and glitches, jamming 
and scratching, fuzz, flange, the whisper 
of cowbells, catchy, somersaulting melodies, 
sweetly dark lyrics and Kinksy guitars 
that shit on everything the LDN indie 
boys are currently churning out from 
their haircut factories. And, for all that, 
it's listenable and kind of cute, and 
dancey,too. 

If that hasn't piqued your interest 
then you're probably some kind of pantyliner 



in haircut's clothing, but I don't believe that 
such a person can exist in 2009. Hit it. 
Jesse Darlin' 



Mikhail 



Morphica (Sub Rosa) 

Morphica is an album of remixes; or, more 
specifically, an album that thinks about 
remixes, and what a remix can be. Its starting 
point is Orphica, the 2007 album by London 
sound artist and sometime Bjork collaborator 
Mikhail Karikis, which Morphica sets out 
to dissect from every angle. So, there are 
three CDs-titled 'Electronics', 'Voices', and 
'Strings', featuring re-fixes by the likes of 
DJ Spooky, medieval vocal group Alamire 
Consort and electroacoustic composer 
Bob Krilic - plus a generously-sized box of 
postcards, essays, artwork, rearranged lyrics, 
and even a CD holder that can be flipped 
inside-out. One constant is Mikhail's voice, 
passionate and towering, in a Bjork-ish vein. 
But while diversity is Mikhail's stated aim, 
Morphicafeelslo remain within boundaries. 
While a remix can prime an original for 
the dancefloor or obliterate it entirely, this 
collection feels somewhat academic in tone, 
seldom venturing outside the polite confines 
of the chamber. While this gives the project 
a certain coherency many remix collections 
lack, you can't help but feel that was never 
the maker's intention. 
Louis Pattison 



Ride On A Brand New Time (Prohibited) 

Although the album title might suggest 
a slightly disorientated Black Box, this French 
trio deal in a kind of dislocated, heavily 
rhythmic psych-exotica which, despite the 
use of kalimbas and ukuleles, steers clear 
of ersatz worldliness and winds up squarely 
in the realm of the ecstatic. Comparisons 
can be made, but only with qualification. 
For example, 'Ride On Ride On' sounds 
a little like LA tub-thumpers HEALTH, but 
it's considerably more colourful and less 
mournful; and just as a dizzy melody or 
circular drum pattern urges you to neatly 
box 'em alongside Boredoms, Os Mutantes 
and Liars, the blissful pulse of 'Fuses, 
Apes And Doppler' hovers into view, 
a song so simultaneously tremulous and 
brave it makes me want to heave big, 
gulping, cathartic sobs. While we're 
talking emotion, special mention should be 
made of the vocals; wordless, enraptured, 
woven into the rich fabric of the music, 
they aim for the inarticulate speech 
of the heart and hit the spot with 
remarkable accuracy, illustrating 
just how useful a democratic approach 
to sound can be for blasting open lines 
of communication. 
Joseph Stannard 



Papercuts 



You Can Have What You Want 
(Memphis Industries) 

Step aboard Papercuts' third album and 
depart on a late night transatlantic flight 
into the skies. Drawing inspiration from 
the twilight zone, Californian Jason 
Quever pilots his Concorde flight through 
dense Sixties organ, spaced-out shuffling 
drums and faraway vocals to produce a 
soundscape of dreamy pop. Recorded on 
tape, the rough analogue sheen brings 
Papercuts closer to earth; 'Future Primitive' 
is distortion-edged and 'Once We Walked In 



der my stylus: telepa. 



rata* 




^MU< "One of our favourite and 
most inspirational albums 
P - is Liquid Swords by GZA, 

produced by RZA. There are 
m+^j£+ ' * many reasons we love this 
J^*i album, but the first is that it 

*" references the 1980 movie 

Shogun Assassin, one of our favourites. The title of the album is 
a metaphor for GZA's tongue - lyrics - as a physical sword. Each song 
samples some overdubbed dialogue and music from the soundtrack, 
like the pitch-bent eerie synth at the beginning of '4th Chamber'. 
Also, '4th Chamber' uses the quote "Choose the sword and you will 
join me, choose the ball and join your mother in death. " GZA has 
carefully chosen his samples throughout the entire album. He has 
brilliantly taken them out of their original context and used them to 
illustrate his own narrative on Liquid Swords, while still appropriating 
the themes of the movie. One of the most common themes to be 
found on the album is that of survival and making necessary decisions 
to keep living. The album is both visual and visceral, just like the film it 
samples. Wu-Tang Clan created an entire philosophy of living and 
making music based on martial arts films. We can respect and relate to 
this, because we have created our own world and rules both for living 
and music making." (Melissa Livaudais and BusyGangnes) 



The Sunlight' is full of hollow distances. 
'The Wolf, with its high vocals and pushing 
organs, awakens the album from a certain 
melancholy. It's not even a druggy record 
as such, more a misty, inebriated shoegaze 
languor; like a gossamer CocteauTwin 
hiding beneath that mirrored haze as you 
drift through the night. 
Alex Goffey 



Peter, Bjorn And John 



Living Thing (Wichita) 

The chemical compound that made 2006's 
Writer's Blocks divine alchemy seems to 
be missing a few crucial elements here. 
Living Thing is pretty patchy. From the first 
note (a ghoulish echo of Michael Jackson's 
'Thriller'), the trio announce their boredom 
with indie guitar pop, throwing themselves 
at the R&B charts like a trio of trollops. 
Props to Peter, Bjorn And John for taking 
such a risk, but the standard of quality here 
teeters up and down like a teeter totter. 
On one hand, there are serious alchemical 
productions ('It Don't Move Me', 'I Want 
You') andTangerine Dreams of yore 
('Last Night') and, on the other, there's 
lugubrious pub rock ('Lay It Down) and 
a corny cut about misunderstood paintings 
in Barcelona ('Blue Period Picasso'). It's 
like the trio got roughed up by electronic 
doodads in the studio - and liked it! 
My advice to you: edit the LP into a stellar EP 
to better illustrate Peter, Bjorn And John's 
confused emotions. 
Shane Moritz 



Petit Mai 



Petit Mai (Difficult Fun) 

Ben and Melanie take their name from 
a type of seizure, approximating the same 
reaction you'd get if you played this album 
to an aerobics class. Their appeal is magnetic; 
Ben pulls fantastic geometric shapes from 
a cold-sounding synthesiser, programming 
whirlybird beats, echoes and reusing Eighties 
nightclub refuse, while Melanie charts the 
European credit crisis. The result is strangely 
enchanting. Her imperious drone deserves 
its own ruinous castle, festooned in filigrees 
of deception and fog. She's capable of 
hypnosis; the musical equivalent of a gaze 
that stares unblinkingly into your bank 



account and rolls its eyes at the state of your 
balance. She throws her monotone in the 
air, sings it like she just don't care. In a weird 
way, this kind of disaffection is totally hot. 
Shane Moritz 



Pom Hoax 



Images Of Sigrid (Tigersushi) 

Poni Hoax walk the tricky tightrope of 
danceable indie. Lyrics drip with practised 
sleaze, and all the mentions are there: 
girls, the city, fading romance. Mostly 
unimaginative fare, then - see 'The Bird Is On 
Fire', a warm-up exercise in sexless, jerking 
pop - but Images Of Sigrid 'is occasionally 
self-sabotaged by endearing mad professor 
touches. 'Pretty Tall Girls' is like Christmas 
Day with a kid who just got a cheap Casio, 
the playful plinks nearly justifying pointless 
guitar excesses. But Pony Hoax plough an 
undeniably strong furrow on 'Antibodies', 
dry drums, clipped guitars and solid disco 
keys that feels like a fruit machine jackpot. 
Still, on balance, they've barely broken even. 
Thorn Gibbs 



Red Velvet 



Red Velvet (KM L) 

B For Bang guitarist David Chalmin was 
last seen splurging sheets of skronk over 
Chris Corsano and Massimo Pupillo in their 
Dimension X sci-fi-stravaganza. Red Velvet 
is an altogether more Personal And Serious 
project -equal parts jutting riffs, tastefully 
restrained electronics and cripplingly 
delicate, sensitive and emotionally 
translucent passages. The aim is apparently 
ultra-dynamic catharsis, and sometimes 
it works: the flechette riff to 'Stay And 
Stare' flays gloriously, its every note perfectly 
wrong. But mostly what we have here is 
a pretty wearying overload of naked pain 
and big rock angst with an immaculate 
production sheen - essentially, a 
post-hardcore Linkin Park. You can't 
fault Red Velvet for emotional honesty 
('Prayer ForThe Dead, Prayer For You' 
tackles bereavement in a truly stark fashion 
that's pretty hard to take), and this is clearly 
part of some healing process for Chalmin. 
But seriously, that wound's never going 
to scab over if you keep picking at it. 
Matt Evans 



plan b 1 71 



" 



brief notes 



Autorace 

Autorace 
(Hovercraft) 

Assembled from the 
remains of the Furtips, 
who were kind of 
like Holland's answer to Pavement, if 
Pavement had kept their first drummer 
and slowly gone insane. From 'Kinky 
Thinking Monkey Underground', the line: 
" You slept with the best band in the 
world! " Forsooth ! (SM) 

Bishop Allen 

Grrr... 
1L LEN ( Dead Oceans) 

In a career that has 
seen Bishop Allen's 
core duo appear in the 
acclaimed 'mumblecore' films of Andrew 
Bujalski as well as releasing an EP every 
month for a year, they've also found the 
time to turn out a second album of 
American indie-pop. Winsome. (JS) 

Butcher Boy 

React Or Die (How 
-^p*Sfc Does It Feel To 
■ ' Be Loved?) 
»**-' Stuart Murdoch 
^^*^ reckons this is 

"a real classy record from start to 
finish " - naysayers, take that as you will. 
These Glaswegians adopt the darker side of 
pop and add more strings and melodrama 
for a second album that's full of finess, like 
Tindersticks' halcyon days. (AG) 

Deleted 

Waveform 

Gatherings 

Baby Warfare 
(Rainbow Quartz) 

The buzz hits you in 
no time. You tell your friends about how 
good it is, how this large shipment of 
sweet-smelling Norwegian country rock 
reminds you of Wilco's beeriest rockers and 
you scream "Yahoo!" like the dorks you 
usually make fun of. The buzz fades, but it 
was certainly good while it lasted. (SM) 

Joe Gideon And 
The Shark 

HarumScarum 
(Bronzerat) 

Emerging triumphant 
from the ashes 
of acclaimed leftfield rockers Bikini 
Atoll, this brother-sister duo ply wryly 
menacing, emphatic monologues 
set against a swampy backdrop. The 
ghost of Nick Cave can never be 
entirely exorcised, but this remains 
an engrossing listen. (JS) 

Its A Buffalo 

£ Don't Be Scared 
(AkoustikAnarkhy) 

Chiming guitars and 
a two-pronged 
vocal attack come 
courtesy of this touted, retro-styled 
quartet from Manchester. Crowded with 
half-melodies and lacking any significant 
dynamic contrast, the brio with which 
Don't Be Scared \s played can't mask 
a lack of distinction. Unfortunately, 
this record becomes grating through 
repeated exposure. (JS) 











Ben Klock 

One(OstgutTon) 

After numerous 
12-inch releases, 
Berghain resident 
Klock's first full album 
proves that he doesn't need the cavernous 
Berlin techno club to explore the mind's 
darkened corners. A giant in velvet slippers 
kicks your ego while vocalist Elif Biger is the 
day-bleached vampire slithering beneath 
the airlock. (AB) 

Lay Low 

Farewell Good 
Night's Sleep (Cod) 

Lovisa Elisabet 
Sigrunardottiris 
London-born but 
Reykjavik-raised, and her music showcases 
this partnership; while her melodies and 
structures are simple and writerly rather 
than glacial, her voice curdles and curls 
with her distinguished Icelandic accent. 
A coy lap steel ups the warmth; simple, and 
sleepy, but not quite complacent. (LS) 

Dan Michaelson 
And The 
Coastguards 

Saltwater 
(Memphis 
Industries) 

Pairing up Absentee's song-writing 
force with The Magic Numbers' Romeo 
Stoddart on guitar, this album represses the 
former's cynicism. What's left are songs like 
'Letters', where Michaelson gets as close to 
a prodigy of Leonard Cohen as is tastefully 
possible. I'm spellbound. (JF) 







Navvy 

AW Idyll Intangible 

B^fc^l (Angular) 

| Breaking news! 
Sheffield sprogs 
^^^^™* in four-pronged 
formulation, making thirsty, snot-nosed 
racket with tinny drums and guitars as 
skinny'n'juttery as gangly teen elbows. 
So: nothing new, really, to- these guys 
are actually better than a lot o' the crop, 
and kinda like These New Puritans with the 
drenched fuzz and flurry removed; they've 
got those fixed stares, that blue blood. (LS) 

AC Newman 

Get Guilty 
(Broken Horse) 

AppearsAC has kicked 
his Beatles addiction, 
a welcome surprise as 
it was getting awfully distracting. Rocking 
it on an acoustic at mid-tempo seems to 
have saved him some breath. He's into 
Supertramp and Elton John these days, 
proving that the seasoned Pornographer 
has been attending the school of rock and 
paying attention. (SM) 







The Rakes 

Klang (V2) 

Having described the 
London music scene as 
"like wading through 
a swamp of shit", 
The Rakes decamped to Berlin to record 
their third album. Ironic, then, that Klang 
is so hopelessly mired in the swamp of 
anonymous London art-slurry. (CL) 





Polly 
Scattergood 

Polly Scattergood 
(Mute) 

j& '" l Here's some 
^l^^y&f more-than-slightly 
skewed angst-pop; all damaged 
introspection, creepy naivety and 
bubblegum neurosis. It's ever so slightly 
worrying and ever so lightly peppered 
with Beth Gibbons-isms and Kate Bush- 
ness. Mostly, it's all underpinned quite 
superbly by some lovely arrangements 
from cut-above soundtrack bloke Simon 
FisherTurner, 'Bunny Club' being a 
particularly virulent piece of ideal-world 
Radio Teenpop fodder. (JP) 

To Arms Etc 

Corner Games 
(Bronzerat) 

Clean, bright pianos. 
Twee, observational 
lyricism. Frequent 
bursts of driving choral lines. Solid 
production values. I mean, there's 
nothing wrong with anything here. 
But there's also precious little to 
recommend Corner Games. Save your 
crunched money for a record that might 
do more than rattle around the back of 
your head. (CL) 

Various 

Final Song #01 
(Get Physical) 

It seems Laurent 
Gamier is unafraid 
of death; according to 
this compilation of last requests, the song 
he'd most like to be played at his funeral 
is Radiohead's 'Sit Down Stand Up', 
wherein Thorn Yorke gargles a protracted 
plea to "Waaa-aaalk into the jaws of 
heee-ell" before pixellating himself with 
"Rrrrrrr-raindrops". Eek. Meanwhile, DJ 
Hell -who you would imagine knows a 
thing or two about this kind of lark-picks 
The Stranglers' 'Golden Brown'. Afew 
of these selections have probably involved 
a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek, 
but ethereal DJ Chloe's more serious 
choice of her own 'Paradise' sounds about 
right: resigned but brave, sad but complete. 
(LS) 

Vile Imbeciles 

Death Jazz 
(Tea Vee Eye) 
Right.This is a single, 

backed with an album 
type-thing. Odd. 
The stumbling rhythms of A-side 'Jennifer' 
are those of lurching, spacey, minimalist 
punk-funk, while presumed B-side 'Tramp' 
is a straightforward, playful exercise in 
grub-eating, multi-riffing gravel-funk. 
However, we're hoping that the gormlessly 
daft-ass, urn, other B-side/'mini album', 
Death Jazz, a 30-minute globule 
of noodling and wanking about, 
is a deliberate pastiche of Spinal Tap's 
Jazz Odyssey. What... it isn't? Oh. 
Ohdear.(JSh) 

Brief notes by Abi Bliss, Jonathan 
Falcone, Alex Goffey, Chris Lo, 
Shane Moritz, James Papademetrie, 
Joe Shooman, James Skinner, 
Lauren Strain 




Anni Rossi 



Rockwell (4AD) 

Anni Rossi's slight quirkiness and 
unorthodox choice of instrument - also, 
the fact that she's a girl - has led to many 
comparisons with a certain harpist (though 
she plays the viola). Such comparisons, 
however, ignore the fact that Rossi, in 
demeanour, attitude and boisterous pop 
inflections, is more Top Of The Popsthan 
All Tomorrow's Parties. Rossi has avoided 
cameraderie with any specific scene, 
touring with disparate acts like Thanksgiving, 
Electrelane and, uh, theTingTings; on 
album Rockwell, she covers both 'Living 
In Danger' by Swedish popstars Ace Of 
Base and her idiosyncratic boyfriend Rollin 
Hunt's ethereal pop number 'Air Is Nothing'. 
Named for the Chicago street she lived 
on, /?ochve//includes many of the same 
songs from last year's 'Afton' EP, but these 
versions resemble Rossi's electrified live 
performance more closely. 
Beth Capper 



Seeland 



Tomorrow Today (Loaf) 

Given the band's partial provenance 
in Broadcast and Plone, as well as 
their Neu!-referencing name, it's no 
surprise to hear echoes of all three groups 
in Seeland's debut Tomorrow Today. 
That said, those bands are less a template 
than a general mood-setting, laying down 
a kind of keyboard-led, easy-going groove, 
scrambling styles to achieve a certain kind 
of never-neverland that suggests Saint 
Etienne at their best (if without a Sarah 
Cracknell equivalent). Dinky pop ('Hang 
On Lucifer', 'Captured') bubbles with 
the kind of goofily pseudo-naive riffs 
and melodies that should be soundtracking 
kids' TV shows beamed in from the 
past (or Mars), while the vocals aim at 
smooth understatement instead of 
hyperactive whimsy. Additionally, 
Seeland express an air for the epic, but 
in miniature-considerthe incremental 
melodies on 'CallThe Incredible'. This 
is indie-pop for a new century that still tips 
its hat to the old one. 
Ned Raggett 



Soap And Skin 



Lovetune For Vacuum (PIAS) 

This is as much aboutAustrian Anja Plaschg's 
neo-classical, storm-cloud piano as it is 
about her voice. Lovetune For Vacuum is 
a studiously intense set, roiling and rolling 
deliriously across barbed faerie heartache; 
goth with a lower case 'g', thunderously 
keyed and sumptuously demented. 
'Mr Gaunt Pt 1 000' is an extraordinary 
chunk of chopped-up cello and medieval 
menace, oddly reminiscent of vintage 
Coil when they had real strings to mangle. 
'Turbine Room' and 'Fall Foliage' are 
starched, aching melodramas that sprout 
clicks and thumps. 

The broad-stroke angst is tempered 
throughout by Plaschg's judicious, gossamer- 
fine electro-witchery; it's disorienting, full of 
false starts and curtailed climaxes, crackles 
and creaks. 
James Papademetrie 



DMStith 



Heavy Ghost (Asthmatic Kitty) 

These songs are not written, they are woven. 
Fabricated, with textured cloth and silken 



72 | plan b 



albums 



thread, like a patchwork quilt.They're crafted 
from known sounds, well-worn strings and 
a tape that hisses heavily, weighed down 
by the dense atmosphere of the room. 
Heavy Ghostls organic, not in the way where 
you can't think of another word for 'stripped 
down' or 'bare', but straight from the body, 
from the physical matter of the man. Lyrics 
decompose and germinate new ideas, 
and Stith's compositions are haunting: 
there is a phantom in his opera. Solid piano 
chords are pounced upon by a skittering 
right hand; they play out like birdsong while 
strings hover like spectres and Stith's 
cushioned vocals bring the whole affair to 
an emotional overload. 
Hayley Avron 



Swan Lake 



Enemy Mine (Jagjaguwar) 

Canada's inspiringly incestuous 
pop cooperative (revolving mainly around 
Spencer Krug) releases another album into 
the world, this one a gilded lily from indie 
supertrio Swan Lake. As fans of first album 
Beast Moans will know, Swan Lake exists 
as a colourful celebration of the pop jam. 
Enemy Minekels like a space for burning 
off excess creativity, like some kind of 
padded pop creche. But here, Krug, Daniel 
Bejar and Carey Mercer have managed to 
retain the crackling energy of Beast Moans 
while inheriting little of its idea-soup 
messiness. 'Heartswarm' swoons; 'Settle 
On Your Skin' rocks; muscular opener 
'Spanish Gold, 2044' lopes confidently. 
While Beast Moans sounded more like 
three kids banging separate drums in 
corners of the studio, this collection is 
broad and cohesive. 
Chris Lo 



Syntheme 



Lasers'n'Shit (Planet Mu) 

It's disappointing thatTadao Kikumoto, 
the creator of the RolandTB-303 - 
and the unwitting grandfather of acid 
house - refuses to give interviews. 
I managed to track down Kikumoto 
a few years ago and struck up an email 
conversation with him during which 
he explained that he was very happy that 
people still make music using his machine. 
This acid-drenched release is testament 
to the continuing relevance of the 303. 
From the first moments of 'Mimtro', with 
its haunting bass line and dreamyfemale 
vocals, this is acid at its finest. As the album 
progresses, it reveals more teeth. 'Red' is 
a fusion of soaring disco strings underpinned 
by the ever present 303 pulse, and, by the 
time we reach 'Scotch Paper', the party 
is in full swing. Syntheme's latest is a mind- 
bending trip down the acid rabbit hole - 
but it can be a little relentless. Even the 
biggest fans of the 303 squelch probably 
shouldn't attempt the whole thing in 
one sitting. 
Stuart Ait ken 



The Ukrainians 



Diaspora (Zirka) 

The Ukrainians started out as a kind of jokey 
side project by Wedding Present guitarist 
Peter Solowka. Originally conceived for a 
special Peel session, their Eastern European 
folk pop, sung in Ukrainian, took off when 
their debut album caughtthe attention 
of the NME. 1 993's EP of Smiths covers 
confirmed that there was more to their 



frantic mandolins and accordions, and 
subsequentVelvet Underground and 
Sex Pistols covers earned them a kind 
of obscure classic status. 

But this joke has grown increasingly 
serious over the years. Just as their novelty 
charm was in danger of wearing thinjhe 
Ukrainians' project has, instead, taken on 
an earnest edge. Earlier investigations into 
the impact of Western culture and politics 
on the ex-Soviet Union are followed up 
on new album Diaspora, which sees 
them reinstate one of Brahms' Hungarian 
Dances as the work of a forgotten refugee 
who the composer ripped off, and T-Rex's 
'Children Of The Revolution' is inflected 
with new poignancy when linked to recent 
Ukrainian history. 

The result is an interesting exploration, 
but one that risks tipping over into a post- 
Communist nationalism to which we are 
not all sure we subscribe. 
Pil and Galia Kollectiv 



A Psychedelic Guide to Monsterism 
Island (Lo) 

Pete Fowler's artwork for Super Furry 
Animals remains one of the most memorable 
pairings of artist and band around, while 
his own musical efforts have included 
a compilation of woozy whimsy from the 
Sixties. Little surprise, then, that something 
like this album might be the end result of 
more recent tin kerings, with Fowler, SFA's 
Gruff Rhys and a host of others creating their 
own modern equivalent of Nuggets but with 
a broader and different brief. 

Thanks to Fowler's open ears for the 
breadth of variance beneath such a loose, 
umbrella term as 'psychedelia' - contributors 
include Jerry Dammers, Luke Vibert and 
Johnny Trunk amid more unsurprising acts 
like Richard Norris, Circulus and Richie Crago 
-the all-instrumental Monsterism Island \s 
a free-flowing melange taking in tropicalia 
rhythms, electrogaze zone-outs and 
neo-travelogue soundtracks. Everything 
fits; perfect for drinking Mai Tais to. 
Ned Raggett 



Carboniferous (Ipecac) 

This is when Italian jazz-metallers Zu finally 
become genuine contenders. Refining 
their art for a decade, the saxophone-led 
mentalism has rarely dipped below arresting, 
evoking John Zorn downing handfuls of 
downers; now, the trio are approaching 
essential. Carboniferous grinds its way 
through 1 monumental seams of primordial 
rock, pausing only to pick up label boss 
Mike Patton en route to bless 'Soulympics' 
with typically atmospheric gurgles. 
His contribution is a comparative distraction 
(although, if it adds an extra few hundred 
sales then it has to be said, job fucking 
done), for the real heat arrives when 
interplay between the sax, face-smacking 
bass and epileptic drums coalesces into 
a mesmerising, unstoppable force. 
Because when Zu hit a head of steam 
with ferociously heavy grooves, such 
as the cataclysmic 'Chthonian', they 
steamroller all that lies before them, 
leaving you choking dust and wondering 
how most of your record collection will 
sound interesting, inventive or intense 
ever again. 
Adam Anonymous 




^ /rEL£A$£P I6TH MARCH 2QQ9 1 § 








* OUT MARCH 9TH 

CD / LP / DD 

"Jewellery is on extraordinary introduction to a unique new talent" - Q 

"Jewellery is a vital debut, full of surp op thrills" - MUSIC WEEK 

"A nailbomb against complacency, and a calling card of great, great potential" - STOOL PIGEON 

"Staggeringly inventive, and utterly unpredictable, this is pop for the 2010s" - DAZED & CONFUSED 

"A bewildering, chaotic and exciting clutch of leftfield pop" - CLASH 

"The lost and found sound of a new UK" - PLAN B 

"Ridiculously talented" - THE LONDON PAPER 

" Sideways-thinking pop genius" - THE FLY 



plan b 1 73 




TVAJt/vauA/d 



lazy gaze 

Words: Fiona Fletcher 

Illustration: Gwenola Carrere 

While a good compilation can 
encapsulate, a haphazard one can 
desecrate. Plan B urges you to fol low 
your heart, not history 



Various 

Sci Fi Lo Fi Volume III: Shoegazing 1985-2009 (Soma) 

Oliver Sacks writes in Musicophilia that musical 
memory is separate from both procedural 
and episodic memory. It is known that people 
with conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's 
can still recall and respond to familiar music. 
From the first strum of The Jesus And Mary Chain's 
fractured fuzz guitar to the chiming harmonics 
of Lush, I know that these songs - so familiar, and 
yet so fresh - are archived at the deepest level of 
my memory, in a place where the ravages of time 
will never touch them; the first nine tracks provide 
a snapshot of the scene when I was on the cusp 
of adolescence and adulthood. 

Shoegazing was initially a term of contempt, 
referring to floppy-fringed boys and girls too intent 



It's not the grammar, 
it's the feeling 



upon their banks of effects pedals to notice 
the audience. But the best of this music gazed 
ecstatically upward, marrying the ethereal beauty 
of Cocteau Twins to the discordant noise of 
Sonic Youth. It was derided as sexless, but it 
transcended gender in the choirboy vocals of Ride 
and Pale Saints, the boy-girl harmonies of Slowdive. 
Sure, it inspired hyperbole-the journalistic cliche 
'Cathedral of Sound' was coined at a Lush gig - but 
there are moments (the bass-runs on Pale Saints' 
'Sight Of You', the rhythmic brass stabs of 
Spiritualized's 'If I Were With Her Now', the 
drums finally kicking in on Slowdive 's 'When 
The Sun Hits') when it's perfect. 

To enunciate a common complaint-that the 
sound is muffled, that it lacks bass response - is like 
complaining that Terry Riley lacks tunes; in other 



words, it's to seriously miss the point. This music 
is about texture, harmonics - it's not the grammar, 
it's the feeling - and the phase-shifting of 
Chapterhouse's three guitars on 'Pearl', 
one chiming and crystalline, another acoustic, 
drenched in backwards reverb, and a third: 
deep, fuzzed-out, skittering like "rave music with 
Rickenbackers", as the contemporary press had it. 

Yet after even a casual listen to this collection, 
put together by Radio One DJ Rob Da Bank, you 
notice omissions. There's a void exactly the size 
and shape of My Bloody Valentine. How do 
you document a scene without the band whose 
inescapable shadow forms the biggest connection 
between these artists? The album dips on the 
recent stuff, focusing on the electronic end of 
nu-gaze. Perhaps this is inevitable, as SciFi Lo Fi 
comes from a dance label -yet, in that case, 
where are the Nineties bands that flirted with 
dance, Curve and Seefeel? And the compilation 
acts as though shoegaze vanished between 
1 994 and 2004, ignoring thriving American 
mutations of the genre. 

My other problem with nu-gaze is the insistence 
upon using Ulrich Schnaussasthego-to-guyfor 
vaguely dancey remixes. If I want disco anthems 
made with atmospheric goth-rock schlock, I'll listen 
to Justice. If I want my face melted off with blissful 
feedback, I'll choose Asobi Seksu or Manhattan 
Love Suicides (two other notable omissions). 
Schnauss somehow manages to combine the 
worst aspects of both genres - not to mention 
thefactthathecouldn'tfindabangin' beat if 
Erol Alkan shoved him up the arse with one. 
But most disappointing is the slight whiff of 
plagiarism here - sure, for a historical scene, there 
are only a limited handful of classics to be had in the 
first place. But too much of the contextual music is 
taken, tune fortune, from the setlist that Nathaniel 
Cramp (of London shoegaze club Sonic Cathedral) 
DJ'd on, funnily enough, Rob Da Bank's Radio One 
show. Maybe when Cramp releases a comp then 
we'll have a more definitive - and complete - 
documentation of the genre. 



74 1 plan b 



album reissues 




clairvoyant noise 

Words: George Taylor 
Illustration: Matthew the Horse 

Godflesh 

Songs Of Love And Hate (Earache) 
Songs Of Love And Hate In Dub (Earache) 

William Burroughs, talking of his and Brion 
Gysin's famous cut-up technique, claimed that 
when you cut into the present, the future leaks 
out- a divination rite, if you like, for one who 
believes in predetermination. Is it possible that, 
as Godflesh's Justin K Broadrick deconstructed 
the songs from his 1 996 album Songs Of Love 
And Hate in order to rework them for the following 
year's Love And Hate In Dub, he glimpsed what 
was to come about because of his influence? 
At the time of the original's release, Broadrick's 
crushingly heavy industrial metal had already 
been essentially ripped off and commercialised 
by US bands such as Fear Factory and Korn, 
bands who then became the blueprint for 
much of the aimless, juvenile aggression 
that made the metal landscape at the turn 
of the century such an unsavoury terrain 
to traverse. 



Early Godflesh, such as debut album 
Streetdeanerand 1 991 's 'Cold World' EP, 
pulled off a rare trick by explicitly exposing their 
influences (Killing Joke, PiL, Coil's Scatology) while 
simultaneously sounding entirely unique. They 
followed the bruised, bruising examples of Swans' 
journeys into relentlessness - swapping the NY 
band's subject fetish of the influence of sexual 
repression upon authority for iconoclastic rants 

When you cut into the 
present, the future 
leaks out 

against the backbreaking industries (work and 
religion) of working-class Birmingham. They were 
a band more cited than sold. 

So, in a mistake likely influenced less by 
creative than commercial reasons, Broadrick 
replaced the hard, programmed drum machine 
blasts of his previous three albums with the 
accessible grooves of a live drummer, and 
Godflesh's music took itself out of the realm 
of extreme music theory/exploration and 
realigned itself with the younger, overtly 



masculine happenings of the baggy shorts brigade, 
which soon developed into what could then 
and now only be called (shudder) 'rap metal'. 
If it's not for certain that Broadrick, a highly 
conscious artist, foresaw all of this, what 
is certain is that the release of Songs Of Love 
And Hate - since described by its maker as 
sounding 'flat' -was followed by a nervous 
breakdown, the slow dissolution of the band 
and a heavy shift in musical direction towards 
the more serene, almost pop plateau of his Jesu 
project. This isn't to say that Songs Of Love And 
Hate fails as a record, for there is undeniable power 
here. It's just a case of being able to find it (at 
the risk of stating the obvious). The locked-down 
sludge riffage of 'Fail' and the rising pile of howling 
bile that is 'Circle Of Shit' provide bewildering 
moments; moments where you're reminded of 
just how valuable Broadrick is to extreme music. 

However, it's on the accompanying remix 
album Love And Hate In Dub where these 
songs are given real focus. Made up mostly of 
agonisingly raw bass and drums-shuddering 
foundations for little else other than guitar 
scree, piercing drones and Broadrick's raspy, 
close-throated roaring - it's brilliant in its entirety. 



Paul's Boutique (EMI) 

Now, it is in no way intended to disparage 
the nation of Switzerland when we 
suggest that the extracurricular two 
or three years of the Beastie Boys' career 
prior to this release, in the summer of 1 989, 
are somewhat summed up by the fact 
that opening track 'To All The Girls' finds 
space to deliver props to "the Swiss girls ". 
After Licence To ///landed in 1 987, the trio 
probably had even more fun than 
that album's lyrics indicated, but the 
notion that it might be long-lasting 
was not universal. 

Few, on the other hand, would have 
expected the then-nascent Dust Brothers 



to weigh in as producers and sweat enough 
blood over the whole process to end up with 
a would-be landmark of sample-based 
music. Betcha that even f^eydidn't expect 
to sample The Sweet, either. 

So here we are: Paul's Boutique is 
now 20 years old, remastered and snottily 
literate rather than just snotty. It comes 
with no extra tracks or anything like that 
(although there is a track-by-track 
commentary by the band explaining 
how they made the record), but hey, it 
namechecks ecstacy and mobile phones, 
has almost no wasted space and is pretty 
much a classic inside or outside of its self- 
created sphere. 
Noel Gardner 



Captain Beef heart And The 
Magic Band 



Safe As Milk (Rev-Ola) 

In SeptembeM 967, no doubt, Beefheart's 
first proper studio album would have 
sounded pretty deranged. Indeed, the 
record was not hugely successful 
upon its initial release. In retrospect, 
however - and compared, for instance, 
to their notorious 7roivf Mask Replica, 
released two years later - it seems 
positively tame, but, one could argue, 
no less brilliant for that. 

Among the pop, doo-wop and 
soul influences evidenct on Safe As Milk 
are planted more than a few seeds for the 
deconstructed blues to come; the beats, 



likewise, are already heading towards 
the gloriously fucked-up. There's also less 
of the zany humour which some would find 
off-putting in the Captain's subsequent 
work.Tracks like 'Electricity' and 'Abba 
Zaba' strike a particularly strong balance 
between the experimental and the 
(relatively) conventional, aided by an 
impressive line-up including Ry Cooder, then 
just 20 years old, on guitar. 

This reissue also contains tracks from 
the unfinished It Comes To You In A 
Plain Brown Wrapper, recorded just half 
a year later but already finding Van Vliet 
a step further down his singularly 
warped path. 
Marcus O'Dair 



plan b 1 75 



album reissues 



c^o 



9lA 1 ■ 



for i have sinned 

Words: Neil Kulkarni 
Illustration: John Cei Douglas 

Isaac Hayes 

Black Moses (Concord/Stax) 

Juicy Fruit (Disco Freak) (Concord/Stax) 

Numb yrself, 'cos in pop-historical terms, 
the deaths are coming thick and fast: 
everyone keen to pay tribute where they can # 
attendant labels getting on with the random 
repackaging and remastering of the texts 
(witness Universal's hapless slinging out 
of the forgettable Juicy Fruit alongside Black 
Moses here - ignore the former, get the latter 
and then move on to Hot Buttered Soul and 
To Be Continued). But fuck obituaries, the line 
of mourners, the showing your face, the piling 
up of learned comment into the dead-end of 
legacy. Words fail me when artists like Hayes 
die, not because of the lineage but 'cos of the 
friendship, the intimacy lost. 

The man christened 'Black Moses' 
by a bouncer, the man whose chain-clad 
performances seemed to be mystical, poetical 
and political acts of liberation and catharsis, 
was also a man who let you into his labyrinth, 
a man who had seemingly explored your 
own inner space, a sculptor and visionary 
of sound that prophesied everyone from 
Pete Rock and The Bomb Squad through 
to Dreand Dilla, a man who did for soul 
and R&B what Copernicus and Galileo did 



forthe cosmos, what De Gama and Polo did 
for the known world. As wracked, ravished 
listener, your relationship with the man is as 
fellow explorer of his genius, riding shotgun 
on his mission into his own maelstrom. 

On Black Moses, the break-up album he 
wrote while his marriage was disintegrating 
in 1971, Hayes inhabits you with sound, gets 
into your pulse, tunes your heartrate to his 
heartache. Opening up the sacrosanct - 
Bacharach's holiest hits- knowing that the 
sky is no limit but the ribcage is, Hayes unfolds 
his soul slowly over the 14 tracks here, slips 

Always a step away 
from despair 

you the direct and the diffuse, the journey 
sometimes too gorgeous to bear (the opening 
duo of 'Never Can Say Goodbye' and 'Close 
To You' are less songs to hear than planets 
whose orbits you fall into). The band is 
way too funky to ignore, the playing and 
arrangement hitting stellar space and liquid 
wonder too often for this to be accident; the 
cumulative detonation forthe senses drains 
both singer and listener into a contemplative 
afterglow always a step away from despair. 
Hayes on the mic, sobbing, holding it 
together, sinking into the molten insolubility 
of loneliness -the lines you know and 
the melodies you thought your heart 



was tired of are opened up surgically, 
reconfigured and imagined fresh, dread 
and torment smeared across the oceanic 
vistas that reveal themselves. 

Hayes makes you listen to these standards 
again, find their uneasy heart again, takes 
the solid foundations of the Stax sound 
and makes every second count in a new 
way, in a suggestive and at times ethereal 
arrangement of Memphis grit that gives 
every close-up of himself a deep-focus depth, 
a steadicam's sure eye. It puts you in an 
entirely new place as a listener. You're not 
merely a dazzled spectator, let alone there 
toadmirethecraft-you'retherei/wthhim, 
and, after a while, you realise you've become 
a presence within the space of these songs, 
free to wander the reanimated edens of life 
and decay conjured therein. Unsurprising, 
then, that when this whirlpool first hit the 
racks the mainstream rock press derided it 
as black muzak, easy-listening soul, castigated 
it for its over-slickness, fearful of Stax busting 
out of the shackles of its tinshack past and 
daring to dream up such cavernous basilicas to 
the self and the lover. But 'muzak' implies your 
ability to turn off, to coast, to forget what 
you're hearing. Hayes offers you no such 
relief, and Black Moses, as sonic vision, as 
lover's testament, as spiralling self-pilgrimage, 
is still a visitation from heaven and hell. 

Bless your brokenness, because here be 
redemption. Be touched again. 



Casiotone For The Painfully 
Alone 



Advance Base Battery Life (Tomlab) 

Look! Fifteen orphans, singles and covers 
and compilation tracks, buzzin' and getting 
on splendidly. This is a party mix, in the most 
democratic sense. For you, white-eyed 
girl grinding up embarrassingly 
against god-knows-who: a slick, bashful, 
tongue-in-cheek rendition of Missy Elliott's 



'Hot Boyz'. Hey, you ! The one kid who 
can actually dance: hang your puppet-joints 
from the breakbeats of 'Old Panda Days' 
(featuring No Kids' Nick Krgovich) and 
'White Corolla'. Sad, gin-wielding puppy 
on the hallway carpet: take 'Lesley Gore 
On The TAMI Show', the new version, with 
that glorious chick Jenny Herbinson's timid, 
pennywhistle voice. Hiccup once, burst into 
tears. Good job. And all together now, for the 



judder and the vast, embracing hum of 
Casiotone's 'Graceland', the most plainly 
ass-kicking cover I've heard in years ('Born 
In The USA' might have won, if main-man 
Owen Ashworth hadn't kinda vocodered 
its rapturous chorus into submission. No 
matter). Goin' to Graceland, all of us, armed 
with this strange, post-futuristic sound of our 
generation's youth. Do we look lonely? 
Meryl Trussler 



...For The Whole World To See 
(Drag City) 

Are Death the greatest band you've never 
heard? Unless you're currently teasing 
your hair into a Wayne Kramer frizz, 
the answer's no. Yet, although it's taken 
35 years for brothers Bobby, David and 
Dannis Hackney's debut album to emerge - 
record label execs pulled the plug when the 



76 1 plan b 



album reissues 



trio refused to change their name to 
something less morbid -there's more to 
these seven songs than the missing sliver 
of proto-punk history they represent. 
Bobby and Dannis later moved to 
Vermont to become reggae duo Lambsbread, 
but as African-Americans raised in riot-torn 
Detroit, Death threw themselves 
wholeheartedly into the MC5/Stooges 
template of blazing guitar lines and rallying 
polemic. 'Keep On Knocking' dispenses the 
former with ample sinew and snottiness, 
while 'Politicians In My Eyes' overcomes 
its clunky lyrics with looming apocalyptic 
dread. One ill-advised foray ('Let The 
World Turn') into stilted psychedelia 
aside, this is one exhumation that smells 
surprisingly fresh. 
Abi Bliss 



David Dondero 



South Of The South (Affairs Of The 
Heart) 

David Dondero is a songwriter oft cited by 
other songwriters: what Conor Oberst made 
famous with his early Bright Eyes work - 
a kind of precise, wry and symbolic way 
with words, sung in a warble as fragile as 
burned bracken - Dondero had, arguably, 
been doing already (and, even more 
arguably, better). Yet, he has largely gone 
unnoticed on a grand scale, and you'd 
be forgiven for claiming that there's often 
a tang of injustice to be detected in his 
sharp delivery, in his lemon-acid consonants 
(his vocals are warped and wrinkled but 
adamant, rebellious). 

This is his sixth album, originally released 
on Oberst'sTeam Love label in 2005 but 
now repossessed and issued through Affairs 
Of The Heart; it's brawnier than follow-up 
Simple Love, but no less vivid: "I was just 
a tender chicken in the Florida rotisserie ", 
he begins, trussed up and impaled on a self- 
made spit, "my own sweats basting me, 
thunderstorms chasing me ". What sounds, 
at first, to be a feverish delusion is just an 
honest portrait of frustration and lost love - 
and while Dondero sometimes too easily 
portrays himself as victim, wounded and 
wallowing, he's pretty much just a man 
born at the wrong point in history: " There 
was a Cuban district and a centre for 
the arts", he pines, visiting some now- 
generic cityscape, "It's now a mall-like 
atmosphere, homogenous and insincere - 
they burned its heart righ t out ". We f I i n ch 
with familiarity. 
Lauren Strain 



Enchantment 



Dance The Marble Naked (Peaceville) 

Enchantment's debut was intended as 
Century Media's answer to Peaceville's 
three big Northern death/doom bands 
(Anathema, My Dying Bride, and Paradise 
Lost), but this Blackpool quintet imploded 
after this, their first recording, never to be 
heard of again. 

Now reissued on the spiritual home of 
death/doom, Dance The Marble Naked \s 
very similar to the early output of the big 
three, with mournful melodic passages 
building to brutal, Bo It Thrower-style 
chugging. Paul Jones' vocals have never 
endeared themselves to listeners; he 
attempts notes through a diaphragm- 
shaking metal growl. The effect, even on 
those hardened to the pig squeals and 
gurgling of extreme metal, can seem comic. 



But there is a certain aesthetic symmetry 
to be witnessed between the brutish, 
ineloquent vocals and the lovelorn 
romanticism of the lyrics.That might 
sound naff, but if you are listening to 
an album called Dance The Marble 
Nakedyou must have already 
suspended disbelief. 
Patrick Moran 



Loren Connors and Jim 
O'Rourke 



Two Nice Catholic Boys (Family 
Vineyard) 

Faced with the prospect of two maverick 
American guitarists paired in a duel, 
one brings to mind the image of that 
old Vivien neWestwood print picturing 
a couple of gunslingers waving their dongs 
about in front of each other. Or is that 
just me? 

Mercifully, mutual masturbation is 
not on the agenda for this selection of 
recordings from Connors and O'Rourke 's 
1 997 European tour. The three 
improvisations here find the two 
players curling and snaking around each 
other, creating delicate and sinewy guitar 
patterns which slowly reach a scorching 
level of thrashed-out intensity. The opening 
minutes of 'Maybe Paris' are evocative 
of deserts in the midst of burning heat. 
Things slowly ebb away, leaving dark 
abstractions beneath a smouldering 
red sky. 

These two nice boys conjure real 
American music, redolent of vast open 
landscapes where raw elements carve 
great wonders from thin air. 
Euan Andrews 



Beth Orton 



Trailer Park (Sony) 

Back when I was 1 5 and in love with 
Ryan Adams, everyone told me to listen 
to Beth Orton - his rumoured on/off 
girlfriend at the time -instead. Well, here 
we are, seven years since I was 1 5 and 1 3 
years since the original release of Trailer 
Park; dude's getting married to Mandy 
Moore, and I'm in my attic spooning up 
strawberries and finally getting around 
to it. 

Produced byAndrewWeatherall, 
Trailer Park\s more of a painkiller haze than 
I was expecting: 'Tangent' drifts on a numb 
bass, tranced and haunted, boating out on 
a muffled electric whine as its eight minutes 
time out; 'She Cries Your Name', recorded 
with William Orbit, is a clarion of protesting 
strings treated and weirded-up to sound 
like they're being fed through glass wire. 
'Touch Me With Your Love' is a similarly 
spooked reel of stills and pauses, artifical 
percussion twitching and scrapping at 
wounds beneath an almost dubby, bumpy 
bass and Orton's spoken word. It would 
seem that Dido totally ripped the hell off 
of this stuff, turned it into nuked schmaltz 
and won a load of meaningless awards for it 
(while Trailer Park-era Orton was nominated 
for, not the winner of, two Brits), but here are 
the seedlings, the sediments of something 
far superior. 

For the benefit of both 
Orton newbies and stalwarts is a second 
disc of B-sides and rarities. In a patch of 
new, white light on a sticky, tarmac floor, 
blanche out to this. 
Lauren Strain 




Various 

G-Spots:The Spacey Folk Electro-Horror Sounds Of The 
Studio G Library (Trunk) 

Biscuits and tits. Isn't that what Trunk Records is all about? 
Well, not entirely, although they are both rather wonderful 
things. With the recent issues of Basil Kirchin and John 
Baker in particular, Trunk have shown that there is a seed of seriousness 
buried amid the nostalgia and cheeky chappy rhetoric. At first glimpse, this 
compilation of cues from John Gale's Studio G music library might appear 
to be a further expression of frivolity. Listen to the damn thing, however, 
and it becomes clear that Studio G produced some of the most 
gripping, experimental library music known to humankind; electronically 
enhanced, erring towards the dark side and highly inventive. One of the 
most compelling aspects of library music must surely be its facelessness, its 
Auton-like plastic nature; however, determined to invest the music with a 
contemporary edge, Gale encouraged his composers to try new methods 
and devices such as tape looping, echo units and synths, resulting in a heady 
blend of white hot innovation, teatime cosiness and disquieting eeriness. 
The album's 26 cues were mastered by Jon Brooks, aka Ghost Box's The 
Advisory Circle - a good indication of what to expect. 
Joseph Stannard 



Retrospective III: 1989-2008 
(Anthem/Atlantic) 

Hey, aren't Rush fascists? Probably not, 
considering Geddy Lee is Jewish. But aren't 
they fans of Ayn Rand? Yeah, but so is my 
best friend. Are you calling my best friend 
a fascist? Because if so, I will kill you. Even 
if you're right. Rush are one of those huge 
bands who are resolutely non-canonical, left 
out of orthodox rock history because they 
just don't fit.They're Canadian, they speak 
for the genuine geeks - not the cool ones 
you hang out with now, but the kids who 
couldn't even find anyone to play Dungeons 
And Dragons\N\X\\ them - and following 
their Seventies peak they never became 
completely shit. Rush sound as though their 
journey may be ongoing rather than a re-run. 

Selected from the band's last 20 years 
on Atlantic, this compilation features some 
fantastic music, not least late-period peaks 
'Dreamline', 'Presto' and 'Far Cry', but there 
are some obvious omissions - the proto- 
mathrock of 'Show Don't Tell' is missing, 
for example, and where's 'Spindrift'? Tsk. 
But hey, it's Rush. You can forgive your 
favourite uncles anything, right? 
Joseph Stannard 



Six Organs Of Admittance 



RTZ (Drag City) 

/?7Z collects early recordings by the mercurial 
Ben Chasny. Those familiar with his work will 
know that it can veer between the viscerally 
unforgiving and the spiritual and profound 
from record to record. Here, that transition 
can occur from song to song. 

The second disc contains album Nightly 
Trembling, previously restricted to a release 
of only 33 copies in 1 999. Recorded on four- 
track, the songs blend rhythmic chanting 
with serene fingerpicking and metallic 
growls. You can almost hear the tape 
buckling beneath the pressure. /?7Zalso 
boasts tracks previously released on splits 
with Charalambides and Vibracathedral 
Orchestra, the music suitably dense and 
meditative. Never for the fainthearted, 
Chasny's epic pieces are sometimes almost 
impenetrably oblique. Yet persevere, and 
you'll find beauty in the shadows, Loren 
Connors-esque riffs permeating the layers 
of noise. Six Organs Of Admittance is never 
anything other than engaging; brave, dark 
music that stares straight into the night. 
Sam Lewis 



Ultra vox 



Monument (EMI) 
Quartet (EMI) 

In the videos from Ultravox's live shows 
circa 1 982-1 984, the band, at the height 
of their success, stand upon a gigantic 
stage behind boxy synths. This is where the 
difference between the electronic pop bands 
of the Eighties and the rock groups that 
preceded them becomes clear: what rock 
bands perform on stage is the spectacle of 
work. Like Stalinist factory workers, they 
operate instruments with skill in a group 
to produce a synchronised effect. Ultravox 
don't work, they simply are. They press 
keys and look straight at the audience; 
they become a human sculpture, reflecting 
the unlaboured passivity of the audience. 

This is why Eighties synth-pop had such 
a monumental edge, carving a simple yet 
epic sound like a minimalist block around 
which spectators could have a theatrical 
experience. Listening to the remastered 
Monument, a live recording of their 
1 983 tour, is not about trying to identify 
differences from studio versions, extended 
guitar solos or mistakes. The music makes 
more sense as architecture to be inhabited 
than as a live experience to be relived. 
Monumental Quartet contain all of the 
contradictions that made synth-pop what it 
was: manly dandyism, euphoric alienation 
and arty populism. 
Pil and Galia Kollectiv 



The Undertones 



The Undertones (Union Square) 

Marking 30 years since its initial release, 
this reissue of the band's debut is a treat. 
'Jump Boys', 'Here Comes The Summer' 
and 'Billy's Third' still display that original 
vitality and effervescence, straddling the 
tri-decade gap splendidly. Where this 
reissue becomes essential is in the clutch 
of 1 7 bonus tracks, comprising early singles, 
B-sides and Peel sessions. From 'Teenage 
Kicks' and 'True Confessions' to 'You've Got 
My Number (Why Don't You Use It)' and the 
jaunty, daft 'Mars Bars', Feargal Sharkey 
isin fine, optimistic voice, giving lie to those 
who dismiss(ed) punk as a hard-nosed 
political movement in the latter years of 
the Seventies. 

If that weren't enough, the included 
'Teenage Kicks' promo video is glorious: 
innocent and still utterly fresh pop. 
Joe Shooman 



plan b 1 77 



books 




returning the screw 

Words: Hannah Gregory 

Photography: LCareme 

Author and filmmaker Virginie Despentes rewrites 
feminism in memoir-cum-manifesto King Kong Theory 



"I am writing as an ugly one forthe ugly ones", 
writes Virginie Despentes, French author and 
director of Baise-Moi-the 2002 film that provoked 
tags from 'rape-revenge' to 'psycho-trash', and 
was widely censored outside Britain upon release. 
You might read the opening lines to her latest 
text, her memoir turned feminist crit-lit of King 
Kong Theory, as Rallying Angry Woman-speak. 
But Despentes - one time rock critic, one time 
hooker, one time rape victim, in inverse order - 
constructs an argument heavy-weighted and punk 
in spirit. Lydia Lunch helped with the translation. 
" It was a strange experience to have Lydia reading 
the book aloud in my kitchen," she says. 

It's alarming when Despentes proclaims she 
worked as a prostitute as though this were a 
liberating choice ("Being a whore was often great - 
the desire was gratifying, " she writes) but as her 
personal experiences are exposed, she challenges 
and cajoles, citing from the feminist archives of 
Simone de Beauvoir and Gail Pheterson, to cut 
into preconceptions in a purposefully problematic 
manifesto. Here's a short, fast introduction as to 
how she employs shock tactics to rupture silence. 

You speak about punk rock as something 
liberating, to help with your experiences. . . 

" Definitely. I feel that that was where my 
education was. It's useful to break things down, 
to decode lots of things in mainstream culture. 
When I write, I try to in a punk style. Not so much 
to do with the anger of the music, but with a love 
for Bukowski, Dashiell Hamnett, and Hubert Selby 
Jr. Sometimes there is a fine line between brilliance 
and stupidity in this kind of writing." 

78 1 plan b 



In Britain there is the impression that French 
cinema is more risque, yet the way Baise-Moi 
was censored in France would seem to go 
against this idea. Do you feel this was about 
censoring people's bodies and voices, as much 
as the visual document itself? 

"There is a strong tension in France between 
tradition and innovation. France in the Eighties 
and Nineties was the best country in which for 
women to make cinema. Now, women are the 
first to suffer from not being able to find money. 
It was a censorship of me and Coralie [Trinh Thi, 
co-director] and our decision to make a film 
with two porn actresses. We were outcasts from 
the industry. We were not supposed to speak. 
They, the educated, spoke about us, but we were 
not allowed to speak of the film ourselves. " 



'We were not 
supposed to speak. 
They, the educated, 
spoke about us' 



The most powerful thing about King Kong 
Theory is the direct and uncensored view onto 
your experiences with rape and prostitution. 
These are words that people shy from directly 
articulating. Do you write against such silence? 

"Sexuality is not dirty. Providing someone with 
company is not dirty. It feels dirty only because it 
is forbidden. Why should people be prosecuted for 



supplying what people want- be it sex or drugs? 
We achieve nothing in criminalising these women. 
It is not for their sakes the law makes prostitution 
illegal. The issue is the perceived image of the 
sexually active woman, and the image of the family 
-the 'correct' option. I partly wrote King Kong 
Theory in response to how I saw my 1 2-year-old 
stepdaughter exposed to so many sexualised 
images in everyday life, and so little feminism. 

"What strikes me about prostitution is that you 
never see demonstrations where prostitutes ask for 
prostitution to be banned - but for it to be legalised, 
so that they might have rights, and improved 
working conditions. Conditions in France since 
the clean-up a few years ago, which stopped 
prostitutes from working in the centre of cities, 
are really terrible. Girls have to operate outside 
the city, in woods, like animals. It's inhumane. They 
don't have any right to complain to the police, even 
if they are assaulted. They cannot ask anything of 
the law, because they themselves are illegal." 

There is the opinion that feminism is no 
longer relevant - but the issues persist. 

"When I said I was going to write this text 
aboutfeminism, my friends advised me against it. 
They said, "Try to make it funny, we don't want to 
read feminism anymore" . With the book's release, 
I was surprised that people actually want to talk 
aboutfeminism again, because it has been off 
the radar for so long. Even if people disagreed 
with my ideas, some enjoyed being able to talk 
about such subjects. [Other] people seem to think 
that women have made enough noise." 

King Kong Theory is out now on Serpent's Tail 




silver rain 

Words: Jon Falcone 

Personal relationships and 
paranormal energies collide in the 
comic books of Terry Moore 

I first came across the comics of Terry Moore when 
I was visiting friends in Stockholm. To save on hotel 
costs, I was flat-sitting for people I had never met. 
Their flat was wonderful. There was no television 
but there was a huge shelf of comic compendiums, 
all of the same series: Moore's Strangers In Paradise. 
Strangers In Paradise was warm like a Friends 
marathon, but twisted, like David Cronenberg 
was writing the punchlines. Centred around the 
story of Katchoo and Francine, two women who 
tumble into each other's lives as late teens, a large 
bulk of the narrative revolves around them trying 
to figure out what they want from one another, 
when they're not fighting the mob or battling 
government corruption. 

I wasn't able to finish the series during my stay, 
but I'm working my way through the compendiums 
one Christmas and birthday at a time. Now, though, 
Moore has a new project. Titled Echo, it again 
follows female protagonists, striving for stability 
and struggling to deal with the everyday, even as 
their lives turn absurd. "In Echo, I wanted to revisit 
classic sci-fi," explains Moore. "The type of story 
they wrote when atomic science was the door 
to tomorrow and anything was possible in the new 
NASA age. " In the first issue, 
a photographer, Julie Martin, 
witnesses an explosion in the 
sky and is covered in pellets of 
a mystery metal - a metal that 
we find out is an experimental 
)b| beta fight suit with nuclear 

properties. This sets the 
premise for a complex, multi- 
layered drama that snakes 



ECHQ 





between realism and fantasy, 
magnetic forces and nuclear 
energy, with the military in 
hot pursuit. 

Moore, unusually amongst 
male comic book writers, writes 
women with finesse. "I do it 
without fear of responsibility 
and without awareness of what 
I'm doing, really," he explains. 
"I just write people. Women are prominent in 
my stories because I'm very interested in them 
and what they are going through in this life. 
Later, when we step back and look at my finished 
work and people start wanting my credentials 
for such an undertaking, I'm not sure how to 
defend myself. But I keep doing what I do because 



'I try to write honest 
relationships between 
ordinary people 
leading extraordinary 
lives' 



I can't help it. It's what I do. " 

Strangers In Paradise and Echo are stories with 
tender narratives, but told in hard lines. Moore's 
frames share the action-comic and tones colours 
of the work of, say, Alan Moore and Frank Miller. 
Yet his characters are softer, more approachable, 
and engaging on a personal 
level. This is a world where 
the fantastic happens, but 
also a world where people 
have to deal with the fallout. 
"I try to write honest 
relationships between 
ordinary people leading 
extraordinary lives," he 
explains. "That's how I see it." 




Money Will Ruin Everything 2 

(Rune Grammofon) 

In Jazzaway, Jazzland, and Smalltown 
Superjazzz, to name but three, Norway's 
ludicrously prolific jazz and improv scene finds 
reliable (and frequently brilliant) homegrown 
outlets. Yet no label can quite touch Rune 
Grammofon, either for size and consistency 
of roster or for aesthetic coherence - despite 
the fact that their remit has always included 
electronica and rock as well as leftf ield jazz. 

This lavishly produced hardback book, 
published to celebrate the label's 1 0th birthday, 
comes replete with essays from Wire's editor-at- 
large Rob Young, Rolling Stone's senior editor 
David Fricke, and even a note of support from 
Rough Trade's Geoff Travis. It's this last that 
is perhaps most significant. Though the two 
interviews with the genial Rune Kristoffersen 
reveal that he used to work for the notoriously 
immaculate jazz/classical label ECM, they also 
point to a clear post-punk ethos in the label 
he went on to found (those same interviews 
mention Factory, 4AD and Mute as reference 
points, alongside Mo Wax and Warp). 

The majority of the book's 1 52 pages, 
however, are given over to Kim Hiorthoy's 
sleeve art, so intrinsic to the label that the 
third and final essay is by design writer Adrian 
Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy may be pushing 
it to suggest that these sleeves could be one day 
regarded in the same light as classic covers from 
Blue Note or ECM, but the sentiment is spot-on. 
Without a doubt, Hiorthoy's artwork has played 
a key part in pushing Rune Grammofon into the 
territory of a bona fide classic indie. 

Ultimately, however, it's the 25 exclusive 
tracks on the two accompanying CDs that 
elevate Money Will Ruin Everything 2 above 
mere coffee-table book for those of impeccably 
perverse musical taste. Inevitably, some acts are 
missing, such as the two-man sonic clusterfuck 
of MoHa ! , subject of a recent Plan B In Praxis 
feature; of those who do feature, some, such 
as Deathprod, perhaps don't work as well 
outside full album context. 

These are mere niggles, however, more 
than compensated for by devastating tracks 
by Ultralyd and N-ensemble, Food/Nils Petter 
Molvaer, Arve Henriksen, and Supersilent, to 
name but a few personal favourites. Shining, 
Scorch Trio and Box tracks notwithstanding, 
it's worth noting that it's the more reflective side 
of Rune Grammofon that's foregrounded here. 
But it's still a thoroughly fitting celebration of 
a musical headquarters that deserves to be 
ranked among the most important of our era. 
Marcus O'Dair 



plan b 1 79 



^ 




folly named Portmeirion by its designer 
Words: Joseph Stannard and architect, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. 

Illustration: Elliott Elam McGoohan convinced ITC managing 

director Lew Grade that he could produce 
. a follow-up to Danger Man cheaply, and 

Remembering Patrick McGoohan, received an instant commission. Starring in 

captive SOUl at the heart of Cult show the title role, McGoohan played a civil servan" 

on the cusp of resignation who is abducted 
/ tie Prisoner anc l j m p r i S oned in detention-cum-holiday 

camp The Village. Each episode witnessed the 
When British actor Patrick McGoohan died repetition of a dual struggle, the authorities 

on 13 January of this year, aged 80, itwas of The Village as determined to discover the 

more than just the tragic loss of a fondly reason for Number Six's resignation as he is tc 

remembered icon of TVand film; itwas escape their surveillance. His chief opponent 

a reminder that his kind come along with all was Number Two, a chairman figure invariabl 

too little frequency, and that there is no-one defeated by his captive's superior intellect an 

on Earth who could possibly take his place. rapidly replaced. Employing variations on the 

McGoohan leaves same theme evei 



behind not a 
tedious legacy 
of uninterrupted 
brilliance- "I've done 
an awful lot of crap," 
he once admitted, 
and Ice Station Zebra 
or Brave heart are 

unlikely to be TrameworK 

remembered with any great fondness, of televisual entertainment while boldly 

though his performances in All Night Long plundering genres such as science fiction, 

and Scanners are excellent- but something Western, political drama and action thriller, 

far more interesting. That is, a piece of art that But wait -as I'm lauding The Prisoner, 

forced open the parameters of its medium and I'm aware of the dangers attendant in 

which remains a staggering achievement over attempting to preserve something so 

40 years since its initial appearance. outlandishly great in the amber of hindsight. 

Unfolding over 1 7 episodes during late Surely to smugly assess its origins and blandly 

1967 and early 1968, The Prisoner was born out comment on its enduring influence is to drair 

of McGoohan's boredom with his role as Bond- its power, consign it to h istory? With any othe 

esque super-spy John Drake in Incorporated TV series, that might be the case. But like its 

Television Company Ltd's popular espionage central character, the bullish, recalcitrant 

series Danger Man (Secret Agent Man in the Number Six, The Prisoner resists being "pushe 

US), his opinion that the human race was filed, stamped, indexed. ..or numbered," its 

developing too quickly and mechanically for its brute singularity and obsessive perfection 

own good, and his infatuation with a Italianate still shocking, still only graspable in part, still 

resort village on the coast of Wales, a grand evidence of the undying will to rebel, against 



folly named Portmeirion by its designer 
and architect, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. 
McGoohan convinced ITC managing 
director Lew Grade that he could produce 
a follow-up to Danger Man cheaply, and 
received an instant commission. Starring in 
the title role, McGoohan played a civil servant 
on the cusp of resignation who is abducted 
and imprisoned in detention-cum-holiday 
camp The Village. Each episode witnessed the 
repetition of a dual struggle, the authorities 
of The Village as determined to discover the 
reason for Number Six's resignation as he is to 
escape their surveillance. His chief opponent 
was Number Two, a chairman figure invariably 
defeated by his captive's superior intellect and 
rapidly replaced. Employing variations on the 
same theme every 
week, The Prisoner 
owed debts to 
Kafka, Camus and 
Sartre that it paid 
back with interest, 
disseminating 
existential ideas 
within the 
framework 
of televisual entertainment while boldly 
plundering genres such as science fiction, 
Western, political drama and action thriller. 

But wait -as I'm lauding The Prisoner, 
I'm aware of the dangers attendant in 
attempting to preserve something so 
outlandishly great in the amber of hindsight. 
Surely to smugly assess its origins and blandly 
comment on its enduring influence is to drain 
its power, consign it to history? With any other 
TV series, that might be the case. But like its 
central character, the bullish, recalcitrant 
Number Six, The Prisoner resists being "pushed, 
filed, stamped, indexed. ..or numbered," its 
brute singularity and obsessive perfection 



Prisoner offers n 
fort, only a jarrin 
inder that you ex 
yes, that matter. 



authority, against life. The Prisoner relays 
a stark message from the individual to the 
universe; 'I am alive, I am unique, and I will 
not be persuaded otherwise.' 

The Prisoner is still alive and unique, partly 
due to a series of persistent audio-visual 
memes; McGoohan's perpetually beetling 
brow; the immaculate design of The Village's 
interiors; Rover, the growling, spherical 
guardian of The Village; Leo McKernasa 
furiously paternal Number Two ("You will not 
grow up to be a LONE WOLF!"); every frame of 
the audience-baiting final episode, 'Fall Out'. 
To experience these now is to fly in the face 
of nostalgia, into the mouth of the moment. 
The Prisoner offers no comfort, only a jarring 
reminder that you exist, and yes, that matters. 

2009 will seethe long-mooted remake 
of McGoohan's brainchild become a reality, 
appearing not as a feature-length film as 
first suggested, but an ITV/AMC television 
series. Jim Caviezel will play Number Six, with 
Sir Ian McKellen as Number Two. This invites 
a certain scepticism. The Prisoner is already 
so self-contained, so resonant, that there's 
really no need for an update. Why erect 
a contemporary version of The Village, when 
the original has lost none of its glassy-eyed 
capacity for terror or its hall-of-mirrors 
relationship to society? Surely a large part 
of the series' impact derived from its origins 
in the fierce imagination of one man, rather 
than the flip-chart f uckery of the focus group? 
And will the show really benefit from having 
its original Cold War backdrop replaced by 
the War On Terror? Then again, to entertain 
these reservations is to underestimate the 
power of McGoohan's vision. Maybe the 
ideas that fuel led The Prisoner \n\\\ prove 
durable enough to survive the inevitable 
attempts at unnecessary modernisation, 
and the psychic howl of indignation that 
resonated through the original series will 
remain as deafening as ever. 



80 1 plan b 



media 



building on barren earth 

Words: Quintin Smith 

Doom, famine, existential dread: video gaming gets a pallid 
makeover in this character-building string of titles from 
maverick Moscow development studio Ice-Pick Lodge 



Russia isn't a country that lurches to mind 
when you think of videogames. Most people 
might have trouble imagining a Russian even 
playing Guitar Hero, let alone making it. 
But that's not really fair. 

Visit Building 4, Flat 29, hidden down 
a side-street named First Novopodmoskovniy 
in Moscow, and you'll find a fledgling games 
development studio called Ice-Pick Lodge 
that's stuck in the past in the absolute best 
way possible. The Ice-Pick Lodge team hark 
back to a time when masterpieces were 
coded by brave men in bedrooms, when 
no-one knew where gaming was going, 
and when your game not fitting into an 
existing genre was a good thing. Safe in the 
belly of their country and firm in their beliefs, 
Ice Pick has managed to avoid the terrible 
affliction that's struck down western Europe, 
America and Japan - game-making process 
becoming a strictly regulated business. 
Comparatively, Ice-Pick Lodge CEO Nikolay 
Dybowskiy is a desperate visionary. "The 
most important task," he says, "Is to involve 
the thinking public in gaming and wait for the 
appearance of intelligent game journalism 
and criticism. As soon as the average level of 
intelligence of players and journalists rises, 
developers will respond immediately." 

A brief overview of Ice-Pick's first game, 
Pathologic, should bring you up to speed. 
It begins with the player looking down at 
a stage as three 'actors' argue over which 
of their characters is best suited for the 
dilemma that is to come. After the scene 
ends the house lights go down and you're 
free to leave the theatre, at which point 
you're asked which of the three characters 
you want to take on the role of - the 
Haruspicus, the Bachelor or the Devotress. 

What follows is an apocalyptic nightmare. 
Set in the early 20th century, your character 
arrives at a tiny Russian town on the day 
a terrible plague break out. Your job is to try 
to stop the disease before it wipes out the 
settlement, and depending on who you 
chose at the start you have to rely on either 
'modern' medicine, traditional shamanic 
methods or unknowable messianic faith- 
healing. Achieving anything requires the 
run of the town, which means doing terrible 
favours for all sorts of power-mongers, 
rioters, drunks, drug-addicts, whores, liars, 
soldiers under orders to sterilise the town 
and one terrifying hanging judge, not to 
mention countless sad, sick and scared. 

Utterly different, painfully difficult, 
relentlessly uncomfortable, reeking of 
low production values and (eventually) badly 
translated, Pathologic slipped onto the UK 
PC game review circuit in 2006 like an errant 
hypodermic needle into a plastic ball park. 
Nobody knew quite how to deal with it, and 
a recurring theme in the few publications that 
did review it was glowing body copy followed 
by a low score. As intrigued as the critics 
were they couldn't possibly advise anyone 
to actually spend money on this curio. Plan B's 
own Kieron Gillen summed it up neatly in his 
review for PC Gamer. "This will be someone's 
favourite game of the year. That somebody 



almost certainly won't be you. "Pathologic 
was far better received back in Russia where it 
won a score of game-of-the-year awards, but 
that doesn't make it any less of an aberration. 

" Frankly, we never specifically aimed for 
being not-like-others," says Nikolay. "What 
we do began as an attempt at a cultural 
experiment. In 2002, we wrote a manifesto 
in which we proposed that the computer 
game is a new and independent form of 
art with huge and yet unexplored potential. 
" For us, it means primarily that games 
possesses a unique arsenal of specific 'tools' - 
ones that, unfortunately, we are yet to 
discover and master-that will allow this 
artistic form to become the language of the 
age we live in. We believe that the computer 
game could become art of the 2 1 st Century, 
just like cinema became, to some extent, the 
primary form of art of the 20th century. Our 
studio was born as an artistic laboratory. " 

Ice-Pick's vision, then, is an expanded 
version of the bugbear that nags at a lot 
of adult gamers today - that the reason slow- 
burn, intelligent games are so rare (or to put 
it another way, the reason an adult rating on 
a game only ever means swearing and gore) 
is simply because the medium is so young. 
That makes Ice-Pick both an inspiration 
and martyrs, developers happy to dash 
themselves against unseen rocks. Nikolay 
sees it another way: "Dig the soil that the 
genius will plant seed into." 

Ice-Pick are putting the finishing touches 
on the English version of their second PC 
game now. Known as Typrop (Tension') in 
Russia, it's coming out here as The Void and 
is every bit as high-concept as anyone could 
have hoped for. You play the soul of someone 
who's just recently died, and first have to 
learn to survive in the strange purgatory you 
end up in. It's all about colour- the Void is a 
dark, barren place, and the little colour there 
is can be stolen away, kept in your body, and 
twisted into weird sigils that let you bend 
the world and its inhabitants to your will. 
It's the architecture of the place that's the 
most exciting part so far though - pointless, 
Escher-esque buildings, hostile black bluffs, 
stunning still lakes lit by organic-looking 
streetlamps. It's a beautiful place to explore. 

The Void is a game about death, but 
Ice-Pick's reasoning for that goes way beyond 
death being a clear challenge staked out 
for the player. Wanting to build a better 
games industry has to start with building 
better gamers with higher expectations, 
something Nikolay refers to as 'catharsis'. 
"The metamorphose is a ritual event that 
assumes a 'small death' of the person that 
went through it. For a new, enlightened 
man to be born, the old one has to die. " 

Insanity in the most agreeable sense, 
I'm sure you'll agree. With any luck, The Void 
will get Ice-Pick a little more press, something 
which can only galvanise a team with such 
high ideals (or at least put a few more 
yankee dollars and English pounds into 
their pockets). Until then, anyone interested 
in picking up Pathologic Tor a song can find 
itattinyurl.com/bu6v33 




'The computer game is a new 
and independent form of art 
with huge and unexplored 
potential' 














i 






'. 



plan b 1 81 



OK, so clearly you have memorised (at 
least) one piece of ridiculous hyperbole 
regarding yrself . Please quote your 
favourite here. 

"Well, I do remember one thing -it's 
probably the only one I've memorised - 1 tr 
it was when Strange Weather came out, and 
somebody said it was 'music to slit your wrists 
to'. I thought that was very unfair. Oh yes, and 
then somebody else once described me as 'The 
Sylvia Plath of Rock'n'Roll'. That was quite a 
good one, I thought." 

What is biggest misconception about you, 
the most overused adjective? 

"World-weary. Which makes me sound rather 
bored, and I'm not bored at all." 

What was the most heinous lie you ever 
told in an interview? 

"I really try not to lie in interviews. I've said 
a couple of stupid things in the past, about 
people and so on, which I've later regretted. 
Maybe because they were true." 

Do you read your own press releases? Do 
you feel they represent you adequately? 

"Yes, it's the professional thing to do. The 
thing is, my whole life I've been trying to bring 
together my life and my work, and I'm getting 
better at it now. I've always felt that it should 
be about the work, and not about 
the personality." 

Has music criticism ever actually helped 
improve yr work, even only in spotting 
a mistake or providing a second opinion? 

"Yes, I think so. Good music criticism - and it 
doesn't happen very often - can occasionally 
give you a handle onsomething you can't see 
otherwise because you're too close to 
the process." 

If you were a music magazine editor, who 
would you feature and why? Who would 
you put on the cover? 

"Amy Winehouse. I think she's tremendously 
talented. 1 1 ike the others -I like Lily Allen and 
I lovePJ Harvey very much -but I think Amy 
Winehouse has the best charisma. And the 
thing is, I really want herto pull through. I can 
relate to it, you know. And I think she will." 

What do you do when a band you don't 
like cite you as an influence? 

"I don't say anything. I just smile and say 
thankyou." 

Do you ever Google yourself? What's the 
best/worst/weirdest experience resulting 
from this? 

"Do I ever what? Oh yes, of course I do. I was 
looking on YouTube and I found a duet with 
David Bowie, which I thought was fabulous. 
I don't really do computers so I have to get 
my manager to do it; someone showed me my 
Wikipedia entry the other day and I was very 
impressed. It's very long and very detailed, 
and quite nice, actually. As for Google results, 
I can't say I'm that fascinated. I thought we 
could all move beyond the point of slander, 
and I think we have." 



the true revenqe of. 
Marianne Faithf ull 

Words: Jesse Darlin' 



'Somebody said it 
was "music to slit your 
wrists to". I thought 
that was very unfair' 




s 



* 



at the camera. I suppose for me it was a good 
way to get away from the feeling of just being 
looked at all the time." 



What brilliant (at the time) ideas 
regarding 'direction' or presentation or 
whatever are you now glad you never 
followed? 

"There was this nun in the Sixties who had 
a big hit with a record called 'Dominica'. It 
was like a novelty thing, you know? And I was 
asked to re-record that - another singing nun. 
I thought that was the most stupid idea that 
I'd ever heard, so I said no thank you, and 
I'm very glad I did." 

Have you ever made a music video that 
actually expressed something about the 
band, or has it all been empty multi-media 
gimmickry and super-superficial 
posturing? 

"I think I've always tried to make videos that 
were as true to myself as possible, but they 
weren't what they play on MTV. They weren't 
very sexually explicit; they weren't funny. 
And the great desire is to laugh at people, 
which I understand, but I never could manage 
to do it, to make oneself a cartoon. Or maybe 
I did it [with Absolutely Fabulous etc], but 
without ever really knowing how. At first 
I said, 'I won't play myself, I don't want to.' 
And then Jennifer said, 'OK. ..well, would you 
play God?' And I said, 'Oh, yes, all right then.' 
Rather grumpily. I didn't really have anything 
to say after that. But I did it and I loved doing 
it and eventually I got the joke." 

Who was the worst (or weirdest) that ever 
supported you? 

"Oh gee. Really, I had very good people. I don't 
have support, now, I don't like it. But I started 
my life on those big tours that had lots and 
lots of people on them. I think I was probably 
supporting them, but they were very good 
people, and I liked and respected them very 
much -The Hollies, Roy Orbison." 

What's the most actually fairly insane 
thing a fan has done to impress you? 

"I don't know. I've got a fan - 1 rather like her, 
you know?-whocomestoall my shows all 
over the world. I was very, very surprised and 
quite touched, actually. I hope she didn't fuck 
herself up by going to Australia to see me. 
And it was nothing new, you know? I mean, 
she'd seen ita/ot" 

What's the worst question you've ever 
been asked? What was your answer? 

"Oh God. Yes, it was when my book came out - 
in 1994-and I can't really remember it, but 
they were sort of dreadful questions from 
Americans about Mick Jagger. And they were 
so vulgar, and I was quite shocked. As if I'd 
talkabout it, like that. I thinkthey were trying 
to get me to say how Mick Jagger was in bed, 
and I'm not going to talk about that. Unless 
it's in a positive way, of course. I said it was 
none of their business." 



What's the favourite of your record covers 
and why? What does it, y'know, say about 
you? 

"Well, in Broken English, for example, I was 
looking away somewhere into the distance, 
and a few of my records have been like that. 
I think on these last two I'm looking straight 



82 | plan b 




plan b presents: 

smalltown supersound on fire 

Words: Euan Andrews 
Photography: Simon Fernandez 

Sit tight and zone out as our Norwegian pals 
beam back audio postcards from alien ecosystems. 
It starts cool, but gets pretty toasty 



Drivan 

Som En Laederlapp 

Before the partying kicks 
off, let's begin with a few short 
moments of quietness and ease 
from this new Kim Hiorthoy-led 
project. A girl sings, a guitar 
chimes soft and warm, there's 
a fuzzy shower of rusted horns 
and the briefest interlude of 
lazy beats. Give it time, and 
feel your heart as it begins 
to thaw. 

Arp 

From A Balcony Overlooking 
The Sea 

And once the ice has melted, 
you should find yourself here 
in the cloudless idyll of Alexis 
Georgopoulos. Company 
is always better for these 
moments, of watching sky 
and sea melt together into 
the endless horizon, another 
green world beckoning. 

Meanderthals 

KunstOrArs 

From out of the cooling night, 
soothing Balearic waters in which 
to bathe. Rune Lindbaek and the 
Idjut Boys conjure a sultry Fourth 



World soundtrack 
to the tropical beach party 
of your dreams, bodies softly 
swaying in the faint breeze. 
Why can't life actually be 
like these sounds? 

Mungolian Jet Set Vs 
Mari Boine 

It Ain't Necessarily Evil 

It's time to rev it up a bit. 
Starting slowly at first, with 
slow and hesitant steps - 
but then the drums begin to 
work it, voices gather and swirl 
around you like beatific ghosts 
and the tempo begins to rise. 
Walls form, the floor appears 
beneath your moving feet, 
lights spark up, and, hey, we're 
at the disco! 

Lindstrom and Christabelle 

Music In My Mind 

Lindstrom keeps it cranked 
up while a sultry vocal striptease 
by his Feedelity chanteuse, Solale 
Christabelle, has you glowing like 
the Ready Brek kid. Asquelching, 
horned beast of a number which 
physically attacks the spinning 
glitter ball and smashes into 
a million reflecting fragments. 



Diskjokke 

Reset And Begin 

If Neu! had gone digital 
dancefloor, they might have 
sounded like Diskjokke, aka 
Oslo disco prodigy Joakim 
Dyrdahl. There's light and shade 
simultaneously; it's like driving 
with the hood down through 
seemingly endless green fields 
then blacking out in the blink 
of an eye and careering down 
darkened city streets in search 
of sanctuary. Not dark, nor light, 
but both at once. 

Tussle 

Night Of The Hunter (Prins Thomas 
remix) 

Stay on those darkened city 
streets, prowl around fashionable 
districts and stray into a chic 
glass-walled boutique where 
mannequins in designer 
sunglasses pull jerky dance 
shapes while scrutinising 
their reflections for any slight 
flaw. San Francisco's Tussle 
soundtrack their every move, 
smoking it up at the Roxy end 
of the high life. 

Nisennenmondai 

Destination Tokyo 

Nisennenmondai are a Japanese 
three-piece who have previously 
garnered much approval by 
nailing themselves firmly to the 
no-wave mast with songs entitled 
'This Heat' and 'Sonic Youth'. 
Now they're soaring into the 
Tokyo night with a wired, garage- 
y take on the fundamentals of 
Krautrock and damn fine at that. 

KXP 

18 Hours 

'18 Hours' is what Primal Scream 
think they sound like - a full- 
blown glam stomp plated in 
metal and chrome, echoing 
through a howling void. 
In 1 973, everyone thought 
this was how all rock'n'roll 
would sound by now. 

Sunburned Hand Of 
The Man 

The Parakeet Beat (Bjorn Torske 
remix) 

In which our favourite tribe 
of far-out road warriors career 
off into the distance on the 
back of a ramshackle lorry; 
jamming, jangling and rattling 
out the spirit of campfire 
improvalltheway. 

Toy 

Woodpecker 

A final fanfare of radiophonics 
from this UK/Norwegian duo, 
an evening epilogue that 
worms its way into your brain 
and lingers, too. 



If your curiosity was piqued by 
Pil and Galia Kollectiv's feature, 
sign up this month and get a 
free copy of the definitive new 
DAF compilation. Das Beste Von 
DAF - 20 Lieder der Deutsch 
Amerikanischen Freundschaft, 
released in March on Mute's Grey 
Area imprint. 




"The years between the late Sixties and the 
mid-Seventies form the cultural space that punk 
traversed so quickly by making explicit the inherent 
violence and reactionary individualism that hippy 
ideal contained. In this respect, it is particularly 
interesting to follow the evolution of the DAF sound 
from their 1 979 debut to the highly polished trilogy 
of Alles 1st Gut, Gold Und Liebe and Fur Immer, 
to see how the band negotiated the impossible 
truce between the openness and experimentation 
of Krautrock and the crude, brutal minimalism of 
punk, eventually betraying both. If punk was an ugly 
version of what the counterculture wanted to hide 
from itself, DAF were the horrible truth that punk 
did not dare utter to itself. " 
Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Plan B #43 

To qualify for this offer please mention PB43 
on the back of your cheque or in the Paypal 
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plan b 1 83 



P J Harvey 8C John Parish 




A Woman A Man Walked By 



The Album Out 30th March On CD, Deluxe LP & Digital 
Features The Single 'Black Hearted Love' Available To 
Download From All Usual Outlets From 3rd March. 



www.pjharvey.net 
www johnparish . com 



ISLAND 

5®